Instituting a partial smoking ban at a homeless shelter can lead to a reduction in expired carbon monoxide levels, an indicator of exposure to cigarette smoke, and may have positive effects on shelter residents’ health, according to new research. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) released the study results last week in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

The rate of smoking in the United States has fallen to 18 percent among adults, but among homeless adults, the rate is a staggering 70 percent. According to previous UTHealth research, this may be because homeless smokers who are trying to quit smoking typically encounter an average of 40 smokers per day, more than in other populations.

“Addressing the culture of smoking in homeless shelters through policy changes may improve health and support cessation in this population,” said Michael Businelle, PhD, principal investigator and assistant professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the UTHealth School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus.