Oh Baby! We Want to Keep You Safe From Secondhand Smoke

Inside Cover:

Take The First Step For Your Baby

Making a plan to avoid secondhand smoke is an important step in helping your baby have a healthy start. This workbook was written by a tobacco prevention expert and mother of two.

Pregnant? Planning a Family?A New Parent? Take the first step for your baby! Call 1-800-FOR-BABY or 1-800-367-2229
TTY for hearing impaired is 1-800-976-1922 

During Pregnancy
Keep Secondhand Smoke Away

Choose to avoid cigarettes and secondhand smoke when you are pregnant. This is one of the most important steps you can take for yourself and your developing baby.

  1. Let family members, friends, and co-workers know you are trying not to breathe secondhand smoke.
  2. Ask others to help you keep your home and car smoke-free before and after the baby is born.
  3. Go to public places that do not allow smoking.
  4. Sit in the non-smoking section in restaurants.
  5. Talk to your healthcare provider about secondhand smoke and ask for help.
[Picture caption: If you stopped smoking during your pregnancy... congratulations! You took a major step to give your baby a healthy start in life. ]

During Pregnancy
Breathing Secondhand Smoke Is Harmful

Even if you do not smoke while you are pregnant, your developing baby is affected by tobacco smoke. It limits the oxygen your baby gets and:

  1. Puts your unborn baby at risk for being born too early or premature (before 37 weeks).
  2. Increases your baby's chances of being born too small and not having a healthy weight.
  3. Makes it more likely that your baby will develop lung disease.
  4. Increases a baby's risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  5. Can harm your baby's developing brain.

[Picture caption: Secondhand smoke comes from a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe and from the smoke exhaled by smokers.]

After the Baby is Born

Do all you can to keep yourself and your baby away from secondhand smoke. Secondhand tobacco smoke makes babies sick and makes it harder for them to breathe. Babies' lungs and airways are small. When they breathe tobacco smoke, babies get poisons from the smoke. Their lungs also absorb tiny particles, nicotine, harmful gases, and chemicals from secondhand smoke.

Breathing problems, wheezing, and sickness triggered by secondhand smoke makes babies feel uncomfortable and can cause them to be more fussy.

Now A Word About Cigars

Congratulations on your new arrival! Thinking about passing out cigars to celebrate your baby's birth? Think Again! The amount of smoke from 1 cigar equals 3 cigarettes and is more poisonous.

[Picture caption: Start a new tradition. Give out flowers or chocolate kisses to celebrate your baby's arrival.]

The Benefits for Your Baby

  1. Lowers your baby's risk of dying from SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  2. Reduces the number of asthma attacks.
  3. Lowers chances of bronchitis, pneumonia or croup.
  4. Results in fewer colds, coughing and congestion.
  5. Reduces the number of sinus infections.
  6. Results in fewer ear infections.
  7. Promotes healthier lungs for a lifetime.
  8. Promotes healthier brain development.

[Picture caption: Keep your baby away from secondhand smoke. Give your baby a better start in life.]

Help Your Baby Breathe Easier

  1. Ask others not to smoke around the baby.
  2. Ask others not to smoke in your home or car.
  3. Choose a childcare provider or babysitter who does not smoke.
  4. Avoid places where people are smoking.
  5. Put up "No Smoking" signs as a friendly reminder.
  6. Ask smokers to wash their hands and change clothes before holding the baby.

[Picture caption: Remember, most people will not smoke if you ask them not to.]

Parents' Stories

Many parents want to ask others not to smoke near their baby. This can be awkward, especially when talking to family members. But most people will not smoke if asked politely. These stories may help you.

When Grandparents Smoke

Renee and her husband didn't want their newborn son exposed to cigarette smoke when they visited her parents. "It was difficult and my parents were offended at first," said Renee, when she asked them not to smoke around the baby, even in their own home. Her mom and dad wanted to see their grandson. They made one room in their house the baby's room and did not smoke in there. Renee was glad her parents tried to change. But, she knew the smoke was all around and still got into the baby's room.

[Picture caption: Opening a window may help clear the air, but it is not good enough. Make your house smoke-free.]

Renee's Suggestions if Grandparents Smoke

  1. Have fewer visits at the grandparent's house during the winter when the house is closed up.
  2. Visit more often during warm weather when you and the baby can be outside.
  3. Invite the grandparents to your house to visit the baby, remind them that your house is smoke-free.
  4. Dads need to join with the moms to talk with family members and caregivers about secondhand smoke.

Rene and her husband took these same steps when their second son was born.

[Picture caption: Kids exposed to secondhand smoke may not do as well as other kids in school. It also doubles their risk of getting cavities. ]

When Baby's Daddy Smokes

Marco tried not to smoke around his daughter and would go outside his house to smoke. However, his baby, Laura, began having asthma attacks. Often her asthma started after Marco had been holding her. Once, Laura had a really bad asthma attack and was rushed to the emergency department. The doctor told Marco that the particles and tar in cigarette smoke stuck to his hands and clothes. His smoking had triggered Laura's asthma attacks! That was enough of a warning to Marco. He quit smoking cold turkey! Laura's breathing improved, thanks to her dad.

[Picture caption: Fathers can protect their families from secondhand smoke.]

When A Partner Smokes

Pregnant with their first child, Jan worried when Mike smoked. So she asked her doctor how secondhand smoke affected the baby even though she didn't smoke. Then Jan asked the doctor to talk to Mike about not smoking around her now, and not smoking around the baby after the birth. Together they made a plan for Mike to go to Jan's next check-up. At the clinic Mike learned that his smoking put the baby in danger even before it was born. The doctor gave Mike a 'no secondhand smoke prescription' to remind him not to smoke around Jan or near the baby after it was born. Mike's first step was to smoke outside. Then he quit smoking in the car. Jan says: "I feel better knowing Mike is helping me and helping our baby to be healthy. The house smells better too!"

[Picture caption: Secondhand smoke makes babies' little lungs work even harder and also increases the chances of bronchitis or pneumonia.]

Make Your Own Action Plan

Think about when and where you breathe secondhand smoke. List the places.




What are your reasons for avoiding secondhand smoke. For example: Smoke stinks! It affects my health and makes my nose itch and eyes burn. List your reasons.




Actions I Can Take

What can you do to keep away from secondhand smoke? Example: When I go out with friends who smoke, I'll drive. List things you can do.

At home (fill in the blank)

At work (fill in the blank)

In the car (fill in the blank)

[Picture caption: Ask people to go outside to smoke and then wash their hands and face before holding your baby.]

Telling Others

These smokers are important to me. I want them to be part of my baby's life. I will let them now their cigarette smoke hurts me and my baby.

Name: (fill in the blank)

What I will Say: (fill in the blank)

For Example:

Name: Kevin

What I will Say: I know you want the best for our baby. He needs you not to smoke around us.

I can call these friends and family members who don't smoke to babysit.

Name: (fill in the blank) 

Phone: (fill in the blank)

[Picture caption: Involve friends, family, and babysitters to help keep your baby healthy and smoke-free.]

My Baby is Breathing ... Thank You for Not Smoking!

Benefits Of Not Breathing Secondhand Smoke

  1. Safer for you and for a healthier pregnancy.
  2. Better for your baby's growth and development.
  3. Your baby will breath easier.
  4. Your baby's risk of SIDS will be lower.
  5. Better for your baby's developing brain.


For help with keeping your baby away from secondhand smoke, quitting smoking, and other parenting topics, call:

[or visit]

This campaign is brought to you by:

N. C. Healthy Start Foundation and the First Step Campaign

N. C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund

N. C. Department of Health and Human Services - www.wch.dhhs.state.nc.us