Prisoners Get the Butt of the Bargain: State Smokes. (News Alert!)

Article excerpt

Last month, cigarettes became another illegal commodity in Maryland prisons. In settling a second-hand-smoke lawsuit, Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services decided to ban cigarettes altogether, joining states such as New York and Minnesota.

No such movement is underfoot in federal prisons, however, a place where cigarette sales remain strong and, possibly, quite profitable due to the sale of so-called out-of-date smokes, news alert! is told. According to a source familiar with cigarette retailing, stale smokes -- those not suitable for the retail market -- routinely are sent to the captive market of the prison commissary.

For public consumption, cigarettes usually don't stay on the shelves long enough to go stale, says Seth Moskowitz, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. "It's not good for our customers to have a product out there that's stale," he says.

In cases where the shelf life (which typically lasts one year, but varies from brand to brand) has passed, the offending smokes are recalled and destroyed. "We are very interested in making sure that our products at retail are at their best, and that means being fresh," insists Moskowitz. …

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