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Tobacco use among substance use disorder (SUD) treatment staff is associated with tobacco-related services received by clients



Despite disproportionately high rates of smoking among people in residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, few receive tobacco cessation services. Little is known about how smoking among treatment staff may impact this disparity. We explored the relationship between staff tobacco use and client tobacco use. Additionally, we examined the relationship between staff tobacco use and tobacco-related services reported by staff and clients.


Staff (n = 363) and clients (n = 639) in 24 California publicly-funded residential SUD treatment programs were surveyed in 2019-20. Staff self-reported current tobacco use, as well as their beliefs, self-efficacy, and practices regarding smoking cessation. Clients reported their tobacco use and they services received while in treatment. Regression analyses examined the adjusted and unadjusted associations between staff and client tobacco use and other outcomes.


Use of any tobacco product by staff ranged from 0% to 100% by program, with an average of 32% across programs. Adjusted analyses found that higher rates of staff tobacco use were associated with higher rates of client tobacco use, and with fewer clients receiving tobacco-related counseling. In programs that had higher rates of staff tobacco use, staff were less likely to believe that clients should quit smoking in treatment and had lower self-efficacy to address smoking.


Higher rates of tobacco use among staff are associated with higher rates of client tobacco use and fewer clients receiving cessation counseling. Efforts to reduce tobacco use among SUD clients should be supported by efforts to reduce tobacco use among staff. SUD treatment programs, and agencies that fund and regulate those programs, should aim to reduce the use of tobacco products among staff.

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