Tobacco Use among the Homeless Population: FAQ

The Public Health Law Center recently released an FAQ that answers common questions regarding tobacco use among the homeless population in the US, including those who are transitionally, chronically, and episodically homeless. This FAQ includes policies and strategies that local and state organizations can take to reduce tobacco prevalence among this population.

Some key points:

  • Estimates of the number of U.S. homeless range from approximately 565,000 on any given night to 2.3-2.5 million in any given year
  • Despite recent decrease in overall un-sheltered homelessness nationally, only 18 states recently reported decreases in the number of people living in unsheltered locations, including the street, cars, and abandoned buildings
  • At least 70% of all homeless individuals smoke, 4x that of the general population and 2.5x that among impoverished Americans
  • Approximately 20-30% of homeless adults have a serious mental illness and roughly 30-50% either have substance use or dual disorders, along with a 68-80% prevalence of cigarette smoking