Tobacco Awareness Program

About the Grant

In April 2020, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians received a California Tribal Grant for a Tobacco Awareness Project.  This is a 5-year grant focused on commercial tobacco awareness and education with the following goals: (1) implement a voluntary smoke-free home program, (2) implement a Reservation-wide tobacco-free public spaces policy, and (3) create a youth coalition to spread knowledge about health and environmental concerns associated with tobacco use. 

Project Director- Michelle Nielson | 760-297-2038

Michelle started in October 2020 as the Project Director for the Tobacco Awareness Grant.  Michelle is originally from Nebraska and moved to California in the fall of 2019.  She has her Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration and holds a Masters of Education degree.  Michelle has over a decade of experience in public and community health initiatives.  She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for multiple colleges teaching courses in health science and healthcare administration/leadership. 

Community Engagement Coordinator- Susan Ortuno | 760-484-2626

Susan grew up in Santa Ana, CA. and had the opportunity to continue her education and obtain a Bachelor’s degree in IT (Information Technology). She is currently the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians Tobacco Awareness Program. Susan started working with the Rincon Tribe the Spring of 2019 and hopes to have the opportunity to be here for many years to come.

Smoke-Free Home Program

Smoke-free homes protect your loved ones from the dangers of secondhand and thirdhand smoke from commercial tobacco.

  • Secondhand smoke is smoke that comes off of a lit cigarette and comes out of the smoker’s mouth and nose.  It contains more than 7,000 chemicals and many are toxic.
  • Thirdhand smoke is smoke that stays in clothes, hair, walls, furniture, and on the skin of the smoker.  It stays there even after the cigarette is put out. 
  • More information can be found at

In order for a home to be classified as smoke-free, it needs to meet the following guidelines:

  1. Sign a Smoke-Free Home Pledge Card either filled out online or postcard form and submitted to the Rincon Government Building.  
  2. Keep all areas within the home smoke-free.
  3. Designate a “smoking area” outside, ideally at least 25 feet from the entrance (if needed).
  4. If somebody within the home smokes, they need to change their clothes afterwards and wash their hands and face. 
  5. Display the “Smoke-Free Zone” sign and window cling where it is visible to guests. 

It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

Commercial tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death among American Indian and Alaska Native populations.  Smoking harms almost every tissue and organ in the body, including your heart and blood vessels. It also harms nonsmokers who are exposed to second and thirdhand smoke.      

The California Smokers’ Helpline provides free services to help you quit smoking, vaping, or chew. The highly-trained counselors can help you develop a quitting plan that’s right for you.  Services include telephone counseling, text messaging, mobile apps, Alexa skills, self-help materials, online help and referrals to local programs, and free nicotine patches.   

For more information, go to or call 1-800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887)

The American Indian Commercial Tobacco Program offers free and confidential help to quit.  They understand the challenge you face in quitting commercial tobacco and they know the line between commercial and traditional tobacco has blurred.  AICTP offers three programs; phone + online coaching, phone only coaching, or online only coaching.   

For more information, go to or call 1-855-5AI-QUIT (1-800-524-7848)

Rincon Tobacco Youth Coalition