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November 2007

Quit to Win

Promoting smoking cessation to NC women

The 30th annual Great American Smokeout took place Thursday, November 15. Started by the American Cancer Society in 1977, this event encourages smokers to quit for a day in the hopes that they will work towards quitting for good.

Health professionals who work with women, especially those who are pregnant, can use this event and month to raise awareness about the harmful effects of smoking and offer resources for quitting all year long.

Effects of smoking during pregnancy

Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and illness. In 2005, among women who smoked, 12% reported continuous smoking before, during and after pregnancy according to the 2005 NC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System.

Smoking during pregnancy can be especially harmful to mother and baby. It can cause a miscarriage, bleeding in the womb and labor to begin too soon. It also increases the risk of stillbirth and a baby's risk of succumbing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Recently, a report released by the NC State Center for Health Statistics concluded that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases a baby's risk of being born with a clubfoot. Clubfoot, in which an infant is born with abnormal bones, muscles, and ligaments in the foot, is one of the most common major birth defects.

Dangers of secondhand smoke

Even for those who don't smoke, breathing secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer, heart disease, allergies and it can trigger asthma. In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report that showed that secondhand smoke is a known cause of SIDS, not merely a risk factor.

In a recent PRAMS survey, 26.5% of North Carolina women reported living in their home with one or more smokers during their most recent pregnancy.

How can you help women quit to win?

Health professionals and community leaders can play a key role in reducing and eliminating tobacco use before, during and after pregnancy.  By providing clients with reliable and up-to-date information and smoking cessation resources, such as referrals to the NC Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) or the North Carolina Family Health Resource Line (1-800-FOR-BABY), health professionals can lead women on the road toward quitting for good.

The Foundation, in conjunction with the Department of Public Health, Women's Health Branch, also created a video to teach health professionals ways to help women eliminate tobacco use and exposure. Titled,"Counseling from the Heart," the video uses the Five A's approach: Ask, Assess, Advise, Assist, and Arrange. The 23-minute video was recently featured at the American Public Health Association's film festival in Washington, DC.  A limited number of videos and DVDs are available for North Carolina health professionals. Please contact the Women's Health Branch at 919-707-5700 to obtain a copy.

The North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation also has two new public education materials that promote women's health before pregnancy and which address smoking. Both are available for free and in bulk in North Carolina

Choices is a 16-page magazine that addresses some of the tough decisions women make that affect their health. This "self-help" publication motivates women through supportive messages and tips for making positive decisions. Topics include how to quit smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, relationships, dealing with stress and more.

Mujer Total (Total Woman) is a 20-page Spanish-language magazine, which provides practical tips and helpful information on topics ranging from stress, depression, nutrition and exercise to family planning, reproductive health, and smoking cessation. Created by Latinas for Latinas, Mujer Total also links readers to North Carolina resources such as Spanish-language telephone numbers and websites.

By sharing this literature with patients and clients, you can help create a healthier North Carolina for women and babies.

To Order:

Mujer Total (Total Woman)

Click below to view and order other N.C. Healthy Start Foundation educational materials related to smoking cessation and secondhand smoke.

Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs and Services

Help Quitting:
NC Quitline Smoking cessation specialists are available from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week providing answers to questions, access to smoking cessation materials and on-going support.

Secondhand Smoke:
Environmental Tobacco Smoke Training Education Research "EnTER Program"

NC State Center for Health Statistics 2005 PRAMS Alcohol Consumption and Smoking Data

Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy and the Risk for Clubfoot in Infants: North Carolina, 1999-2003, NC State Center for Health Statistics

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Last updated: November 2007


At a glance

2005 NC Statistics

Among smokers, continuous smoking before, during & after pregnancy - 12%

35+ years
25-34 years
20-24 years
< 20 years

Change in smoking: from 3 months before to last 3 months of pregnancy:

Smokers who quit
Reduced # of cigarettes
Smoked same amount or more

Women who smoked during pregnancy by race:

African American

2005 PRAMS Survey, NC State Center for Health Statistics

ACOG Press Release: "Reducing Smoking During Pregnancy Improves Newborn Birth Weight"

2005 North Carolina Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System Survey Results

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