Homeless Shelters Go Tobacco-Free

Good Samaritan shelters are beginning 2015 on a healthy note, implementing a new smoke-free policy at 11 of their emergency sites in Santa Maria and Lompoc. Effective January 5, the shelters won’t allow tobacco and e-cigarette usage on their premises and will provide tobacco cessation services for clients. The organization will be the first multisite behavioral health agency in the county to include comprehensive tobacco treatment programs.

Tobacco “will now be treated like other substances that cause dependency,” said Nancy Gottlieb, the Good Samaritan’s clinical director. The tobacco ban is a natural step for the agency, which provides treatment programs for homelessness and alcohol and substance abuse. “We treat the whole person, and this policy promotes health and well-being for our clients, staff, and visitors,” she said.

The shelters will begin to offer clinical evaluations for tobacco dependency, nicotine replacement therapy, support groups, and educational materials, as well as support from Santa Barbara Public Health Department and the 1-800-NO-BUTTS helpline. The Good Samaritan clinical staff has received 26 hours of training for treating smoking cessation.

The new programs will create an even more supportive environment for clients seeking to shed substance dependencies, said Executive Director Sylvia Barnard. “People come to our agency to reclaim their lives. The incorporation of tobacco dependency treatment into our program is just another way to offer skills and resources to our clients and prepare them for reentry into the community,” she said.

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