INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly one in five pregnant women in Indiana smokes, a rate almost twice the national average. Affecting more than 14,000 Hoosier babies each year, prenatal smoking is associated with a number of serious health risks for mother and baby. Each year in Indiana, the cost of hospitalization for mothers and infants due to premature birth from smoking totals almost $30 million. But health care providers and other professionals often struggle to help women overcome tobacco addiction during such a stressful time.
In response to this, a team of experts in tobacco cessation and women’s health has designed a free smokefree pregnancy resource toolkit especially for professionals who work with women. Promoting Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana is a statewide coalition dedicated to reducing the prevalence of smoking during pregnancy. One of the group’s goals is to ensure health care and other service providers who work with pregnant women have access to the latest, research-based solutions for helping them become smokefree.
“Effectively helping pregnant women quit tobacco is an art and a science. We hope this toolkit will give providers some practical ideas for creating an effective tobacco cessation system for their patients and clients,” said Larry Humbert, executive director of Indiana Perinatal Network and a member of Promoting Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana’s leadership team.
The document, available for free download at www.bringinginalong.org/pspi, offers recommendations based on the latest research and shares examples of activities that have been successful in other states to reduce prenatal smoking. For instance, when Wisconsin launched its comprehensive program to help pregnant women on Medicaid to quit smoking, the state saw a savings of more than $1,000 for each member who successfully quit.
Promoting Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana’s new website also features information about the dangers of smoking during pregnancy, resources to help tobacco users quit, profiles of champions for smokefree pregnancy, and a directory of local resources and activities. This spring, the organization facilitated workshops in 13 communities across the state to discuss strategies for helping women overcome tobacco addiction and to celebrate the work of local champions addressing this issue.
Promoting Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana also is working with teams of local professionals in Pike, Henry and Blackford counties to pilot unique, community initiatives that support smokefree pregnancy. The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine is a member of the leadership team that guided the development of the Promote Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana toolkit.
Promoting Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana is funded by a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission and housed at the Indiana Public Health Association. The smokefree initiative is an effort of Bringing Indiana Along, a statewide program whose mission is to reduce the burden of tobacco among vulnerable populations. Supporters can connect with Promoting Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana on Facebook and Twitter.