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County program hopes to entice pregnant women to quit smoking

RBC — Women who are smoking while pregnant have a new incentive to stop — free diapers for a year.
“Our goal is to reduce smoking by pregnant women, and see cessation for at least one year,” said Tamara Murray, who is coordinating the “Baby and Me, Tobacco Free” program through the Rio Blanco County Nursing Service. “If a pregnant woman stops smoking during the pregnancy and stays smoke-free for a year after the birth of her baby, she receives a voucher for $25 in diapers from Wal-Mart or other participating stores each month. With the economy the way it is right now, this could help take some burden off trying to pay for necessities”
Each woman who enrolls in the program will receive at least four sessions of counseling and assistance to help stop smoking. After the baby is born, she will return to the agency monthly for breathalyzer tests to verify she is not smoking. Providing the tests are clear, she will receive the voucher.
“This is an incentive program. Pregnant woman are already motivated to involve themselves in activities like this because they are concerned about the health of their baby. A lot of women quit smoking on their own when they become pregnant,” said Kim Long, Rio Blanco County nursing services director, who assists in the program.
Studies show that women who smoke while pregnant put their unborn child at risk for a number of health problems, including premature birth, undeveloped lungs and low birth weight. Because mother and baby share the same blood stream, the baby is affected by nicotine and carbon monoxide found in cigarettes.
Other risks for the baby include brain damage, sudden infant death syndrome and the risk of a heart attack or stroke later in life.
The goal of the “Baby and Me, Tobacco Free” program is to help women quit smoking for good. “Many women think their baby is out of danger after it is born and so she can start smoking again,” Murray said. “But, secondhand smoke is just as harmful. It can cause your baby to have asthma, ear infections and an increased amount of colds. It can also cause your baby to cry more, cough and, if you breastfeed, your baby could be exposed to the harmful chemicals.”
Prepared materials have been distributed to local health clinics, Women, Infant and Children (WIC) offices and local daycare facilities.
The program is sponsored through the Rocky Mountain Health Plans Foundation.
Pregnant women interested in the program can call the Rio Blanco County Nursing Service at 878-9525 (Rangely) or 878-9520 (Meeker) for more information.