Cannon County is starting a three-year tobacco prevention program with funds from the tobacco settlement lawsuit. Cannon County received a check for $16,261.25 for this year and part of those funds will be used for the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program to help all women quit smoking during and after pregnancy. Baby and Me has a 60 percent success rate in helping pregnant women quit smoking and stay tobacco-free. Baby and Me will be available at the Cannon County Health Department.
“Quitting smoking when you are pregnant is the most important thing you can do to protect your health and the health of your baby. We are committed to helping all pregnant women quit smoking,” said Barbara Prater, RN with the Cannon County Health Department.
Research suggests a mother is never more motivated to quit than when she becomes pregnant, and Baby and Me hopes to capitalize on that motivation by offering four brief counseling sessions on how to quit smoking during pregnancy. After the birth of the baby, the mother returns monthly for a quick carbon monoxide breath test. If she stays smoke-free, she receives a $25 voucher for diapers from Wal-Mart for each month she is smoke-free. Vouchers can be received for the first 12 months of the child’s life. The $25 diaper vouchers, along with having no more cigarette expenses, will help new parents save money as well as protect the health of their family. While this savings could be particularly helpful for low income households, this program is available to all pregnant smokers, regardless of income.
When pregnant women smoke, the chemicals in cigarettes reach the baby and can keep it from getting the food and oxygen it needs to grow. The risk of miscarriage is much higher for women who smoke while pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy often leads to low birth-weight and premature birth. Smaller babies typically get sick more often and have a higher risk of death within their first year. After the baby is born, second-hand smoke exposure increases the likelihood of colds, bronchitis, ear infections, allergies and asthma.
According to Barbara Prater, “Approximately 25.2 percent of pregnant women in Cannon County smoke. We want to help these women break the tobacco habit and keep their babies healthy.”
For more information on the Baby and Me program or to sign up, call the Cannon County Health Department at (615) 563-4243.