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Tobacco Quit Line Expands Services for Pregnant Women Who Smoke
Date:5/8/2008

More than 8,700 babies born each year in Washington to smoking mothers

OLYMPIA, Wash., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Quitting smoking is one of the best things a woman can do to protect her own health and the health of her baby. In time for Mother's Day on May 11, the state Department of Health has added new services to its free Tobacco Quit Line to provide pregnant women with more help when they're ready to quit using tobacco.

The new tools include quit materials and extra follow-up calls specifically to help pregnant women increase their chances of quitting and remaining tobacco-free after the baby is born. Quit coaches have received additional training to better understand the challenges pregnant women face when trying to quit smoking. In Washington, more than 8,700 babies are born each year to women who smoke during their pregnancy.

"Quitting smoking is a Mother's Day gift that a pregnant woman can give to herself and her baby," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. "Babies with moms who smoke are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and have health problems like ear infections and pneumonia. These new resources will make a real difference in the health of pregnant women and their babies."

The quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW, and in Spanish, 1-877-2NO-FUME) provides free help to all pregnant women who smoke -- no insurance is required. Quit coaches help callers develop a quit plan and a strategy to avoid secondhand smoke before and after the baby is born. The quit line can supply free nicotine replacement medications when appropriate and approved by the woman's physician.

"It's vital that pregnant women get the support they need to quit for themselves and their babies," said Washington State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes. "Health care providers can help ensure babies have a healthy start by asking patients about tobacco use and directing them to proven resources like the Tobacco Quit Line."

The expanded quit line services are part of the Department of Health's effort to reach out to pregnant women who smoke. Last year, the state launched the "Quit for You Quit for Two" campaign to raise awareness of the health dangers associated with smoking while pregnant and the resources available to help women quit. The campaign includes advertising in public transportation, radio public service announcements and informational materials delivered to pregnant women through health care providers and social service agencies.

Washington's maternal smoking rate has remained stagnant over the last several years. In 2006, about 12 percent of pregnant women reported smoking during the last three months of their pregnancy. Some groups continue to have higher than average rates, particularly young women (18 percent of those less than 25 years old), women receiving Medicaid benefits (17 percent) and American Indian women (23 percent). More than 40 percent of women who quit smoking during pregnancy start again within months after giving birth.

Tobacco-related diseases kill more than 3,000 women in Washington every year. Information about the state Tobacco Quit Line (http://www.quitline.com), including a sample call, is available online.

Media materials (http://www.quitline.com/media/press_room.php) are available online.


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SOURCE Washington State Department of Health
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