Number of Erie County Pregnant Women Smoking Decreases, Percentage Still Higher than State and National Levels
The Erie County Health Department is continuing an effort to help pregnant women quit smoking, and they have some programs in place to help do just that.
From 2014 to 2016, 20% of pregnant women in Erie County smoked. That is an improvement from the 24% that smoked during pregnancy from 2010 to 2012.
However, the county is still far behind state and national levels.
"We're hanging out right around 20% and Pennsylvania has got us beat at about 13%, and the U.S. has really got us beat around 8%," explained Sarah Morgan, the Health Promotions and Quality Improvement Supervisor at the Erie County Health Department.
To help women quit, the county offers free cessation classes, and the PA free quit line. Last year, they added a program called Baby and Me Tobacco Free, which offers incentives such as free diapers to help moms quit. About 45 women are currently enrolled in the program.
"It's been shown that this type of sort of incentive and support program gives moms a better chance of quitting before baby comes," said Morgan.
The Women's Care Center in downtown Erie is part of the Baby and Me Tobacco Free Program. They are one of the local programs with the most women involved. Branch Director Tracey Haire said facts about smoking is often the biggest motivator for soon-to-be Moms.
"Once they start seeing what the statistics are these days, how strong the nicotine is these days, and what the tobacco companies are doing in gearing towards the next generation for their supply and demand. The next generation is those in utero," said Haire.
During pre-natal visits, women will set a quit date and go over tips and distractions to help. To hold accountability, the care centers breathalyze the women to see if they have been smoking. Then reward them with diaper vouchers when they have not.
Their coach even sticks with them for over a year, to help them continue their new lifestyle.
"Any young girl that's out there that's smoking, and think they can't do. Yeah they can, come on it, let's talk about it," said Haire.
Baby and Me Tobacco Free is part of a national program, http://babyandmetobaccofree.org
To contact the Erie County Health Department about the program, and others they offer, call 814-451-6700
You can also enroll in the program at these locations: Erie Family Center, Erie Homes for Children and Adults, Greater Erie Community Action Committee, Women's Care Center.