Smoking While Pregnant

Using tobacco products while pregnant can negatively affect your unborn babies’ health. Many toxins found in cigarette smoke are passed to the baby through the placenta. This can deprive the baby of the food and oxygen it needs to develop properly. As a result, babies of mothers who smoke are often underweight. These babies are more likely to need special care and therefore may have to stay longer in the hospital. Some may die at birth or within the first year. Other health risks involved with smoking while pregnant include miscarriage, still births and premature births. According to the American Lung Association, "smoking during pregnancy is estimated to account for 20-30 percent of low-birth weight babies, up to 14 percent of pre-term deliveries and some 10 percent percent of all infant deaths."

Some of the effects of smoking while pregnant may not show up at birth, but may begin as the baby develops. Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) is more common among babies of mothers who smoked while pregnant. Smoking during and after pregnancy may lead to asthma in children. Children of mothers who smoked while pregnant may also have learning difficulties and/or behavioral problems.

If you are pregnant, quitting will greatly improve your health AND your chances of having a healthy baby.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke contains many of the same chemicals inhaled by the smoker themselves. About 500 chemicals in secondhand smoke are known to be toxic or carcinogenic. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke; even the smallest amounts can be harmful to your health. Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25-30 percent and increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30 percent.

Secondhand smoke kills approximately 65 Oregonians each month. Ninety-one percent of Oregonians favor a smoke-free workplace. (Information provided by the Benton County Health Department.)

Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. Smoking around children is responsible for many hospitalizations, new cases of asthma, lung infections and is responsible for 40 percent of all SIDS cases.

Light Cigarettes

Light cigarettes are generally low-tar cigarettes. The use of light cigarettes greatly increases as age, education level and income level increases. Because of the light cigarette target market, it is not surprising that women use them much more than men.

Many smokers belive that smoking low-yield or menthol cigarettes is safer than smoking regular cigarettes. Marketing tactics imply that low-yield cigarettes are less harmful. Because many smokers actually block the vents or take bigger puffs when smoking light cigarettes, they may be getting just as much tar and nicotine as from regular cigarettes.

There is no evidence that switching to light cigarettes can help a smoker quit, or improve their health. Smoking light cigarettes is dangerous and poses the same health risks as smoking regular cigarettes.

Students can get free one-on-one tobacco cessation help through Student Health Services by calling 541-737-WELL or making an appointment at SHS.