OU program aims to help women smokers
IRONTON -- Women of child-bearing age will be the focus of an 18-month, quit-smoking campaign in Lawrence, Scioto, Gallia and Ross counties.
Ohio University received a $281,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Health to conduct the Supporting Smoke Free Families in Southeastern Ohio campaign, according to Regina Warfel, a research associate at Ohio University. The program is geared toward women between the ages of 18 and 44.
"This is something we need, especially for people like me with asthma," said Ellen Dew, an Ohio University-Southern student.
Dave Lucas, an Ohio University professor and head of the county's wellness committee, said the county's high rate of smoking, between 26 and 27 percent, is a factor in the county's poor health ranking. After being ranked worst two years ago among Ohio's 88 counties, Lawrence County moved up one spot to 87th, he said. Scioto County now holds the bottom ranking, he said.
"We need tools to help fight these problems of obesity, alcohol and smoking," Lucas said. "This program will help."
"Our goal is to support women in the community to quit smoking," Warfel said. Radio ads, posters training sessions and input from the health care community are planned, she said.
The program also will make access available to smoking cessation experts at 800-QUIT NOW (800-784-8669), she said. "It's free to most callers," Warfel said.
The program also is looking for people to participate in a four-week stop smoking program that will provide free patches, gums or lozenges to participants, she said.
Health care professionals participating in the program can bill smoking cessation counseling to Medicare, Warfel said.
The Lawrence County Health Department has several smoking cessation programs available to its clients.
Laura Kuhn, a tobacco treatment specialist with the county health department, said the county also is applying for a "Baby and Me" tobacco free program for pre-natal and family planning clients.
The program will offer one-on-one counseling sessions for women participating in the program, said Jennifer Collins, a research associate at Ohio University working on the program.
Smoking during pregnancy can lead to low-birth weights and an increased chance of a stillborn birth, Collins said. Approximately 6,200 children die each year in the U.S. as a result of second-hand exposure to smoke, she said.
Quitting can have nearly immediate benefits, Collins said. Blood pressure and heart rates return to normal 20 minutes after finishing a cigarette. The risk of a heart attack also is cut in half a year after quitting.
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