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Celebrate Moms Who Protect Children’s Health
Mothers want to do everything they can to help their children become healthy adults. For Mother’s Day and the entire month of May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), are urging mothers to protect themselves and their children from the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.
There are many different ways to quit smoking successfully. Some moms go cold turkey, some quit with friends, others talk with their doctor and still others contact the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or online at www.OKhelpline.com to receive free quit coaching and free patches, gum or lozenges.
Mothers in Oklahoma who took part in the SoonerQuit for Women campaign invite other moms to join them in quitting smoking.
“I had to quit for my kids, so they could have a mom around,” said Seiglinde Owens of Tulsa. “If I can do it, you can do it.”
Quitting tobacco can be a challenging goal that requires several attempts, but Kendra Flanagan of Guthrie, another Oklahoma mother and former smoker, said the effort and persistence are worth it.
“Don’t give up on quitting smoking,” she said for SoonerQuit. “I am healthier. My family is healthier.”
The CDC, TSET and OSDH encourage family members to support moms in maintaining a tobacco-free lifestyle for several reasons:
• Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and in Oklahoma.
• In 2010, nearly one in five U.S. adults (45.3 million) was a current smoker. The Oklahoma adult smoking rate is even higher – 26.1 percent (about 745,000 adults) in 2011.
• Smoking dramatically increases one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, many kinds of cancer, and other illnesses.
• Heart disease continues to be the leading killer of women in the United States.
• Smoking causes an estimated 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths in women. Compared with nonsmokers, smoking is estimated to increase a woman’s risk of developing lung cancer by 13 times.
• 17 percent of women in the United States still smoke cigarettes, but surveys indicate that 7 out of 10 of them want to quit.
Meet Terrie, Who Quit Smoking for Her Grandchildren
Years before she became featured in the CDC’s “Tips From Former Smokers” national media campaign, Terrie was a high school cheerleader who competed on the cheer circuit. But with a father and many friends who smoked, Terrie soon found herself lighting up in social settings.
"It was the cool thing to do," she says.
Eventually, she was smoking up to two packs a day and started feeling the effects of tobacco at age 25—a sore throat that never seemed to go away. In 2001, at age 40, Terrie was diagnosed with oral cancer. Later that same year, Terrie was diagnosed with throat cancer. It was then that she quit for good.
The doctors informed her that they would need to remove her larynx. Terrie now speaks with the help of an artificial voice box that was inserted in her throat.
"This is the only voice my grandson knows," she says. “I miss being able to sing lullabies to him. When children ask me why I talk like this, I tell them it’s because I used to smoke cigarettes. My fear now is that I won’t be around to see my grandchildren graduate or get married."
Everyone, Especially Children, Should Be Protected From Secondhand Smoke
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Consider:
• Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals (including toxic substances like formaldehyde, arsenic, lead, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and butane).
• Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot completely eliminate exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.
• Each year more than 300,000 children suffer from infections caused by secondhand smoke, including bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.
• Secondhand smoke exposure causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children.
• Millions of children continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States. In 2007–2008, about 54 percent of children ages 3–11 and 47 percent of youths ages 12–19 were reported to be exposed to secondhand smoke.
Tips to Share With Moms to Help Protect Children From Secondhand Smoke
• Do not let anyone, including family, friends or babysitters, smoke around your children. If you take care of children in your home, do not allow anyone to smoke there.
• If you are a mom who smokes, quit. Children of parents who smoke are twice as likely to become smokers. Resources like 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and www.cdc.gov/tips can help moms quit smoking for good.
• Choose restaurants and businesses that are smoke-free. "No Smoking" sections in restaurants do not protect children from secondhand smoke.
• Make sure your children's day care centers and schools are tobacco-free. A tobacco-free campus policy prohibits any tobacco use or advertising on school property by anyone at any time. This includes off-campus school events.
• Make your home and car smoke-free. Opening a window does not protect you or your children from secondhand smoke.
• Teach your children about the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke.
An Important Reminder for Future Moms
For women planning to have children, it's important to understand the health risks associated with tobacco use, including infertility, spontaneous abortion, premature rupture of membranes, low birth weight, neonatal mortality, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and SIDS.
The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working toward shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing researcher, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. For more information visit www.tset.ok.gov.