Nicotine patches apparently just aren't enough for Etta Mae Lopez.
The 31-year-old woman allegedly slapped a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy across the face this week to kick her cigarette habit by getting herself thrown into jail.
Deputy Matt Campoy was able to accommodate the woman's unorthodox method for smoking cessation, booking her into the smoke-free county jail on suspicion of battery on a peace officer.
Campoy said he was minding his own business, about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday when he exited the I Street entrance of the main jail at the end of his watch. The area outside the jail usually has a mix of people, including family waiting to see imprisoned loved ones and inmates just released from custody.
The uniformed deputy didn't think much of it when a woman moved into his path from his right side.
"I stepped to the left, she stepped to my left," Campoy said. "I stepped to the right, she stepped to my right. I stepped to the left again and she suddenly stepped into me and slapped my face."
Campoy was stunned. The unexpected slap was a bit surreal, he said.
He grabbed Lopez's hands and put her into a control hold before guiding her into the jail lobby. When he released the control hold to have her sit on a bench, she slapped his arm, he said.
Campoy handcuffed the 5-foot 1-inch Lopez and got assistance from other deputies. He then took her back into the jail proper where he said Lopez confided that the slap was meant to get his attention and hopefully lead to smoke-free incarceration.
"She knew that the only way to quit smoking was to go to jail because they don't allow tobacco in the jail," said Campoy. "She waited all day for a deputy to come out because she knew if she assaulted a deputy she would go to jail and be inside long enough to quit her smoking habit."
Authorities said Lopez also told deputies she had been outside the jail waiting for a uniformed deputy to come by for so long that she got hungry and had to go get something to eat - and then she had returned.
Some officers exit the jail in civilian clothes, but Campoy changes out about a block away so he was in uniform.
"She wanted to make sure that who she struck was an officer," said Campoy.
It's an unorthodox way to kick tobacco cravings to be sure, instead of using will-power or nicotine patches.
"I've been telling everybody that I have a new Irish name: Nick O'Derm," said Campoy.
Kidding aside, Campoy wonders what would have happened if Lopez hadn't been arrested for slapping.
"Would it be a little more injury? What level of assault would she take it to?" he said.
"We are hopeful she will be in jail for a long enough time to kick the habit or not want to assault anybody."
Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Follow him on Twitter @Lindelofnews.