OKLAHOMA CITY — This Mother’s Day, May 9, Oklahoma mothers, expectant mothers and all women who use tobacco are encouraged to take a step towards a healthier life for themselves and their families by utilizing the free services offered by the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.

About 17 percent of Oklahoma women smoke, placing them at high risk of smoking-related health issues like infertility, lung cancer, stroke and heart disease. Smoking during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born too early or to have low birth weight – making it more likely the baby will be sick or have to stay in the hospital longer. In addition, children from families that smoke are twice as likely to become smokers, and many mothers say they don't want to pass tobacco addiction to their children.

Brandi Fullam, of Tulsa, started smoking when she was 11 years old, eventually becoming a two-pack-a-day smoker. Fullam quit smoking when she became pregnant, but quickly began again after the birth of her son, Zamien. More than 50 percent of female smokers resume smoking within two to six months after giving birth, according to the Oklahoma Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System.

“I decided to quit again when we were driving in the car,” said Fullam. “My son, Zamien, was like, ‘the smoke, it’s bothering me, it’s bothering me,’ but quitting without support was very hard for me. That's why I called the Helpline. The Quit Coaches were really understanding and caring. With their help, it was a lot easier to quit than I thought it would be.”

For infants and young children, cigarette smoke is especially harmful because their bodies and lungs are not fully developed. Exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, asthma attacks, bronchitis, pneumonia and more.

To assist mothers and other participants in their own quit journey, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline offers free services that allow participants to select individual options or choose a comprehensive or bundled program of services. These services include text and email support, phone and web coaching, texting and free patches, gum or lozenges. Soon-to-be-moms are eligible for additional one-on-one support so babies can have the best start at life – and receive the gift of a healthier mom.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline offers all mothers, smokers and nonsmokers, resources on how to protect children from the risks of smoking.

Those who smoke can call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit OKhelpline.com to learn more about the support offered through Helpline services.

Parents should educate children about the dangers of smoking and tobacco use at an early age. They should ask their child about their friends’ attitudes towards tobacco, and discuss peer pressure and how to deal with it.

Smokers should maintain an entirely tobacco-free home and car, and protect children by avoiding places that allow smoking.

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