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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2016

Baby & Me - Tobacco-Free Program Launched in the Upstate

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced today that in partnership with the March of Dimes, a program to help pregnant tobacco users quit for keeps has been launched in the Upstate.

"Baby & Me Tobacco-Free is a grant funded, research based program being offered in Cherokee, Laurens, Oconee, and Union counties to help pregnant women quit using tobacco throughout the prenatal period and beyond," said Timothy Watts, Laurens County program coordinator. The program uses cessation methods and guidelines aligned with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pregnant women who enroll in the program receive counseling support and resources to help them quit using tobacco. Participants agree to Carbon Monoxide (CO) monitoring to determine if they have been smoking or using other tobacco products. "Enrolled participants who successfully quit and stay tobacco-free are eligible for free diapers while pregnant and up to 12 months following the birth of their baby," said Laurie Adams, program executive director and creator.

10.9 percent of mothers in SC (2013) reported smoking during their pregnancy and 19 percent started smoking again after the baby was born. Cherokee, Laurens, Oconee, and Union counties have the highest rates of smoking or tobacco use during pregnancy in the state. "Tobacco use during pregnancy is a known cause of birth defects, premature births, underweight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)," says Breana Lipscomb, director of maternal child health at the March of Dimes.

"Public Health staff in these four counties have been trained and certified to enroll women in the program. Partners of enrolled participants are also welcome to join," she said. Pregnant women and their support partners are eligible to earn diaper vouchers if both quit using tobacco successfully. When a mom has support from a partner, her chance of quitting successfully increases.

"Raising a child can be very costly, and diaper vouchers can really help a new family," Lipscomb said. The program coordinators' goal is to enroll at least 300 women by the end of their first year.

The Baby & Me Tobacco Free program is in 15 states nationwide and has enrolled more than 7,000 women. For more information on the program or how to enroll contact Timothy Watts at (864) 518-0124 or wattstp@dhec.sc.gov.

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127