Good Samaritan shelters throughout Lompoc and Santa Maria adopted a tobacco-free policy on Monday, becoming the first such sites in Santa Barbara County to institute this treatment approach.

According to Good Samaritan Shelter Inc., the change was made in an effort to support health. The new policy went into effect Monday at the 11 shelters operated in Lompoc and Santa Maria.

“Tobacco use will now be treated like other substances that cause dependency,” said Nancy Gottlieb, Good Samaritan’s clinical director. “We treat the whole person and this policy promotes health and well-being for our clients, staff and visitors.”

Good Samaritan will no longer allow tobacco use, including the use of electronic cigarettes and electronic smoking devices. Neither clients nor staff is required to quit smoking, though once the policy is implemented they cannot smoke or use tobacco products while on site.

In preparation for this transition, all clinical staff has participated in 26 hours of training for smoking cessation instruction, and they will also receive on-site training and support from a cessation specialist.

Good Samaritan will offer a complete tobacco cessation program for clients and employees. Services will include clinical assessment of tobacco use and readiness to change, educational materials, nicotine replacement therapy, cessation support groups, the support of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the 1-800-No-Butts Helpline.

Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox

Individuals with a substance addiction smoke at rates two to four times higher than the general population, according to numbers released by Good Samaritan, and thus have higher rates of mortality and morbidity. Recent research indicates that quitting smoking while in recovery can increase the chance of long-term sobriety by 25 percent.

Having a smoke-free workplace can effectively reduce secondhand smoke exposure by 72 percent.

“People come to our agency to reclaim their lives,” said Sylvia Barnard, the organization’s executive director. “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 re-entry into the community.”