In preparation for the ban, the jail stopped selling tobacco products at its canteen on Dec. 31. Many inmates had already run out of smokes before Thursday, though a few had managed to stockpile enough to last them until the last minute.
"I've still got a couple left," said inmate Jeremy Raines. "I know there's going to be a lot of tempers flaring. There's already been fights over cigarettes because some have them and some don't. It's going to get dangerous and rough.
"I've been smoking for 15 years, and it's going to kill me quitting. You need to smoke to reduce the stress. The animosity in here is going to skyrocket once this starts."
There is some concern among staff that the overcrowded jail, which regularly houses 60 to 80 more prisoners that it was designed for, will become even more tense when inmates can no longer puff away to help reduce stress.
"This is just a stressful place anyway. If you don't have that out, it will make it a little harder, but we're just going to have to deal with it," said guard Jullienne Readnour. "There might be more fights and arguments, but I don't think they're going to riot or anything."
Denton said former jailer Chris Hill banned smoking but current Jailer Barry Harmon decided to allow tobacco again in 2002 in an effort to reduce tensions.
"There were a lot of fights when we first came in here, and that relieved a lot of it," Denton said.
Yates said that smoking inmates outnumber non-smokers by about 3-1 and the jail had been divided into smoking and non-smoking cell blocks.
Desperation among the smoking inmates has been growing all week as cigarettes became more scarce. Inmate Kim Davis said she has seen cellmates roll up pepper and paper stained with coffee in effort to replace their missing habit.
"We're turning to God on this one, praying for the strength to get through," said inmate Angel Wilburn. "It's already bad enough being in here, away from your family. Having a cigarette is about the only way you can deal with it. I'd say there's going to be a lot more conflicts."
Not all inmates are unhappy about the ban. Montanza Robinson, who is six months pregnant and only smoked occasionally, said it was difficult being in a cell full of chain-smokers.
"I know it's going to be hard for them, but it will be better for me," Robinson said. "If I wasn't pregnant, the smoke wouldn't bother me, but it was pretty bad for me. I couldn't breath."
Some help may be on the way. Roger Trent, director of the Boyle County Health Department, is trying to find enough money to distribute nicotine-delivering patches to inmates who sign up for a 12-week smoking cessation program.
So far, Trent said he has rounded up about $2,200 in funding, well short of the $8,600 needed to provide patches to the 84 inmates who have signed up.
"We are trying to get what we can, but we still need a pretty good chunk of change," said Trent, who hopes to get additional funding from the Mercer County Health Department, because Mercer inmates are housed at the jail.
"These are Boyle and Mercer County citizens. Their health is important to me," he said.
If enough money can't be found to get patches for all inmates, Trent said female inmates will get first priority because of the health risks smoking poses for pregnant women, unborn babies and children exposed to second-hand smoke.
The program only will be offered at the jail once, Trent said.
"It will be an effort to help them get through this because it's such a big transition," he said.
Yates said the jail might consider offering the nicotine patches for sale through its canteen in the future.
Inmate Donnie Eversole said that while he understands the health issues involved with smoking, he believes the jail should have made patches available as soon as the ban takes effect.
"I don't understand why we have to quit on (Feb. 1) and not have the patches available. It could have been handled more appropriately," Eversole said. "It's causing what would be little issues between people to become mountains."