While inmates at Erath County Jail have been allowed to consume tobacco products for many years, Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Thursday the privilege has been revoked.

Bryant said until recently, inmates have been able to purchase cigarettes and smokeless tobacco through the jail’s commissary program.

Bryant said tobacco products not only gave inmates a needed fix, but also gave jailers a privilege to revoke when inmates were uncooperative or broke the rules. 

He also said the local jail has been known among offenders as a jail where they can serve their time while still feeding their nicotine addictions.

“In the past, people told us that they decided to turn themselves in at the Erath County Jail to take advantage of the tobacco privileges,” Bryant said.

Bryant said the sudden switch to a smoke-free facility came following a fire at the jail last week. He said an inmate started a fire in a cell, to which the fire department responded.

Following the fire, the sheriff decided to stop all tobacco consumption within the jail immediately. He said the change will not only reduce the risk of fire, but will also make the jail a healthier place for inmates and jailers alike.

Bryant also said most jails including those within the Texas Department of Corrections are currently smoke-free facilities.