COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - About 18 percent of women or about 670,000 women in Georgia use tobacco products, and about 12 percent of those women are pregnant. Georgia Department of Health explained it's important for pregnant women to understand the dangers of tobacco use.
There has been a drop in number of pregnant women smoking over the past few years, and DPH is pushing to keep the positive change going by raising awareness and providing help to those who need it.
"We want all women to know how terrible smoking is," Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health explained. "It's difficult to quit smoking, but we want to encourage people to stop as soon as they can. You need to know that you can quit. And to quit, you need to have reinforcement ready and available. We have that ready 24 hours a day."
Georgia Department of Health has a quit line that gives people tips, encouragement and advices on quitting tobacco products. The quit line is 877-270-STOP (7867).
"You can call us anytime," Dr. Fitzgerald said. "For instance, if you ever get up at three o'clock in the morning and that urge to smoke takes over, call us. We are here to handle that kind of situations too, because we know many will need constant reinforcement and encouragement."
Pregnant smokers can cause dangerous health problems for their unborn babies.
"They can be associated with pre-maturity, growth retardation and placenta problems," Dr. Fitzgerald said. "You may also know there is a problem called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Tobacco is one of leading contributors to sudden infant death syndrome."
Many pregnant smokers may move on to e-cigarettes thinking it may be safer. However, Dr. Fitzgerald said e-cigarettes are as dangerous as any other tobacco products.
"When you have e-cigarettes, you are still getting the nicotine," Dr. Fitzgerald said. "But because of the colors and interesting smells, many toddlers will get their hands on them. We've had children in Georgia who were poisoned from consuming those cigarettes. So it's important to know that e-cigarettes are not the answer, and it is not a safe substitute. It's still dangerous for you and your baby."
Pregnant women and other smokers can also receive nicotine replacement therapy via the quit line. Georgia DPH also has nutrition programs and a list of local reinforcement centers to help pregnant women quit smoking. More information is available on their website at dph.ga.gov.