The Bloomberg administration’s 2003 ban on smoking behind bars has led the price of a pack of cigarettes to rise to as much as $200 in New York City jails. The ban has also resulted in 85 arrests since January of 2012, including 20 this year.
On Thursday, deliveryman Stephen Freeman was arrested for trying to smuggle in four bags of tobacco on a truck carrying fruits and vegetables. Prosecutors believe that Freeman was planning on selling the tobacco, but he insisted that it was for his own personal use.
The average price for a single smoke at Rikers Island is $30, jail sources said. Single cigarettes are regularly sold at city bodegas for just 50 to 75 cents. Full packs that retail for $15 outside city jails are sold for more than 10 times that amount on the inside.
In order to deal with issues like this, the Correction Department uses dogs to sniff out drugs and tobacco.
The number of busts for contraband smokes, drugs and knives has risen by 40 percent in the past three years, from 3,254 in 2010 to 4,570 in 2012, The New York Daily News reported. Tobacco was involved in 16 percent of those incidents.