BOSTON (AP) _ An anti-smoking group is asking officials to stop selling cigarettes in jail canteens and to stop using them as payment to inmates.

Edward L. Sweda Jr., of Group Against Smoking Pollution, called cigarettes a ''slow-motion death penalty.'' He said the group opposed Suffolk County's acceptance of bids from cigarette vendors and the practice of letting pretrial detainees at Charles Street Jail to earn up to a carton a week for jail work.

Sheriff's spokesman Peter Woloschuk said the practice of paying inmates in tobacco goes back 20 or 30 years.

He said the administration was open to proposals to pay inmates in scrip so they could buy what they wanted in the canteen, but added that judging from sales, inmates had little interest in giving up tobacco.