New program in Johnson County to help pregnant women quit smoking

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FRANKLIN, Ind. - A national program that helps pregnant women break the habit of smoking has expanded to Johnson County. Baby & Me Tobacco Free says its mission is to reduce the burden of tobacco on society.

Baby & Me Tobacco Free of Johnson County is inside the Johnson County WIC office located at 600 Ironwood Drive.

“The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) always encourage WIC programs to reach out into the community to see what they can do to make moms and babies healthier," said Tracy Smith, the Johnson County WIC coordinator.

Smith's office teamed up with Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County to bring Baby & Me Tobacco Free to the community. The duo made it possible thanks to a $33,500 grant through the ISDH.

Unlike WIC, a nutritious food program for low-income women and their young children, this stop smoking program has no income requirements.

“Reducing smoking rates in women can help everybody be healthier and decrease infant mortality, along with other things with that like premature births and low birth weights," Smith said.

According to state statistics, 15.1 percent of pregnant women in Indiana smoke. In Johnson County, the percentage is slightly higher at 15.4 percent.

Baby & Me Tobacco Free programs are running in 19 states. It will be in 22 states by the end of 2018. It has approximately 15,500 women enrolled.

Pregnant women can sign up, and they can be referred by someone else, including a physician or insurance provider.

“If a woman is pregnant and she is a smoker, or was a smoker three months prior to her pregnancy, she is eligible to enroll in the program," said Smith.

Women have four visits while their pregnant, and then monthly appointments for up to a year after their child is born.

Besides offering counseling, the program gives the women an incentive with a $25 voucher for baby wipes and diapers. To earn vouchers, staff at Baby & Me Tobacco Free measure the carbon monoxide in a pregnant women with a "Smokerlyzer," which determines if someone smoked or not.

Another adult who smokes and lives with the newborn child could also be eligible for the voucher.

“They both come back on a monthly basis, so they have an opportunity to earn $50," said Smith. "One for the spouse and one for the mom.”

The device also allows staff to show a mother how much carbon monoxide her unborn child is getting.

Click here for more on Baby & Me Tobacco Free

Smith said the national program wants to eventually expand to every county in the country. It is already in a couple dozen Hoosier counties.

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