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Tobacco Prevention & Control

Identification And Elimination Of Health Disparities Among Populations

Certain population groups in South Carolina suffer at disproportionate rates from the death and disease brought on by tobacco use. Efforts to identify and eliminate these disparities are integrated into all of the Tobacco Divisionís activities. Disparate groups as identified by the Division include pregnant women, those with low socioeconomic status, the uninsured and youth. Strategies to address these disparities include increasing utilization of the S.C. Tobacco Quitline among pregnant women, youth, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Medicaid recipients and the uninsured; and increasing the number of faith groups who adopt model tobacco-free policies. Below are just a few examples of these programs and strategies.

Mothers Eliminating Secondhand Smoke

Mothers Eliminating Secondhand Smoke (M.E.S.S.)—a partnership of DHEC, Hold Out the Lifeline: A Mission to Families, and various faith-based and community group—encourages women to promote tobacco- and smoke-free policies in homes, vehicles, schools, recreational facilities and faith-based organizations.

DHEC and M.E.S.S. also developed Lighting the Path, a campaign encouraging churches to adopt tobacco-free policies and hold educational sessions about the dangers of tobacco use. Since the program began in 2007, more than 60 churches have adopted comprehensive tobacco-free policies.

Women & Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to 10 percent of all infant deaths and can impair fetal brain and nervous system development. Babies who are born to women who smoke are three times more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and are typically born underweight. What some mothers don’t realize is that an underweight baby can go on to suffer more health problems throughout its entire life than a baby born within the normal weight range.

Not pregnant yet but thinking about trying? Or have you just found out you’re expecting? Stop smoking now.

Quitting smoking during pregnancy will:

  • Increase the amount of oxygen your baby gets
  • Increase the chance your baby’s lungs will fully develop
  • Lower the risk that your baby will be born early
  • Increase the chance your baby will come home from the hospital with you
  • Prevent problems with the placenta
  • Decrease chances of developmental delays

Secondhand smoke can:

  • Cause lung problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which could send your baby back to the hospital
  • Increase your baby’s chance of catching colds and getting ear infections
  • Cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

A breastfeeding mom who smokes can transmit toxic chemicals found in cigarettes to her baby through her milk.

Tips to Help You Succeed

  • Set a quit date. Circle the day on your calendar, and create a plan.
  • Throw out all the cigarette packs or tobacco products in your house and vehicle.
  • Tell friends and family you’re quitting. They can often be your biggest supporters.
  • Ask people not to smoke around you now that you’re pregnant.
  • Leave the room when others light a cigarette, and try to spend time more time in smoke-free places.
  • Talk to your prenatal care team about your quit plan. They can help.
  • Call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline toll-free at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) any time 8 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Learn more about quitting while you’re pregnant with this guide.

African Americans, Hispanics and Other Minorities

The Division works with the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs to address how tobacco use affects our state’s minority populations.