The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department has been recognized by the Tennessee Department of Health as one of the top five counties in the state who have met the Tobacco Settlement Fund objective of reducing the rate of smoking among pregnant women.
In 2014, 12.5% of Hamilton County pregnant women reported smoking during their pregnancy. By 2015, that number had dropped to 11.1%.
“Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight,” said Baby and Me Tobacco Free program coordinator Charlean Walls, MPH. “Low birth weight births tend to cost more, have longer hospital stays, and result in more negative long term health outcomes than normal weight births.”
Hospital and healthcare costs for low birth weight babies can be between 8-17 times as much as a normal baby.
The Health Department’s Baby & Me Tobacco Free program is open to any pregnant woman in Hamilton County who smokes or quit within the last 3 months before becoming pregnant. As long as the participant remains smoke free, they can receive vouchers for free diapers. Each voucher is worth $25. They can receive up to 2 vouchers during the prenatal phase and one a month for the first year of baby’s life. If a household member also commits to being smoke free, they can receive a second voucher for a total of $50 per month (during the post-partum phase only).
The program is free, open to any age, and there is no income requirement. Eligible participants can join the program at any stage during their pregnancy. A support group is available for participants to share resources and encourage each other. If a woman is on the fence about whether to join or not, they are welcome to come to a support group meeting and talk to other participants. Support group meeting times are posted on the Baby & Me Facebook page.
To register for the Health Department’s Baby and Me Tobacco Free program or for more information about it, call 209-8320, or visit on the web here.