Homeless adults are exposed to more smokers and smoke in response to environmental tobacco cues more than other socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. Addressing the culture of smoking in homeless shelters through policy initiatives may support cessation and improve health in this vulnerable and understudied population. This study examined support for and expected/actual effects of a smoking ban at a homeless shelter. A 2-wave cross-sectional study with an embedded cohort was conducted in the summer of 2013 two weeks before (wave 1) and two months after (wave 2) a partial outdoor smoking ban was implemented. A total of 394 homeless adults were surveyed (i.e., wave 1 [n=155]; wave 2 [n=150]; and 89 additional participants completed both waves). On average, participants were 43 years old, primarily African American (63%), male (72%), and had been homeless for the previous 12 months (median). Most participants were smokers (76%) smoking 12 cigarettes per day on average. Most participants supported the creation of a large smoke-free zone on the shelter campus, but there was less support for a shelter-wide smoking ban. Average cigarettes smoked per day did not differ between study waves. However, participants who completed both study waves experienced a reduction in expired carbon monoxide at wave 2 (W1=18.2 vs. W2=15.8 parts per million, p=.02). Expected effects of the partial ban were similar to actual effects. Partial outdoor smoking bans may be well supported by homeless shelter residents and may have a positive impact on shelter resident health.
Keywords: Homelessness; Policy; Smoking ban; Tobacco.
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