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Letter: If smokers want to quit, free help is available

If smokers want to quit, free help is available

National Women’s Health Week, May 10-16, is a time to remind women about ways they can improve their health, including becoming and staying tobacco-free.

Fifty years after the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report shows cigarette smoking is even more deadly and dangerous than previously thought, especially for women.

Women face many gender-specific risks from tobacco use, including harm to reproductive health and complications during pregnancy. Smoking before and/or during pregnancy remains a major cause of reduced fertility, as well as maternal, fetal and infant death and disease.

Pregnant mothers who smoke are more likely to deliver their babies early. Premature birth is the leading cause of death, disability and disease among newborns. In addition, smoking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, such as cleft lips and cleft palates, as well as sudden infant death syndrome.

For women in Western New York who are looking to quit smoking, free help is available. The Independent Health Foundation, with support from the New York State Chapter of the March of Dimes and the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, offers the Baby & Me Tobacco-Free Program. This program, offered to all pregnant women in Western New York, aims to help pregnant moms quit smoking and stay smoke-free. Moms complete prenatal smoking-cessation sessions and can earn vouchers for free diapers each month they are smoke-free after the baby is born, for up to six months.

For more information, visit For more free help, call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS.

Carrie Meyer

Executive Director

Independent Health Foundation