May is a month to celebrate mothers all over the world and to advocate for women’s health. Unfortunately, tobacco use among women remains a serious problem: In Indiana, the smoking rate for women is 21.5 percent, which is higher than the national average of 17.2 percent.

Now more than ever, focus should be placed on helping women quit smoking. Smoking harms and kills both men and women, but women face unique and even greater health risks from smoking than men. The U.S. Surgeon General reported in 2014 that women who smoke are now as likely as men to die from many smoking-caused diseases.

Women who are mothers can also play an important role in protecting their children from secondhand smoke and reduce the risk of smoke-caused health problems. Two out of every five children ages 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States.

Mothers can protect their child from secondhand smoke by:

• Keeping a smoke-free home and car

• Don’t let their child visit any places where smoking is allowed

• Educate their child about the dangers of cigarette smoking

The best Mother’s Day gift a woman can give to herself and her family is a smoke-free life. The Indiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) offers free, evidence-based cessation treatment to help tobacco users quit and stay quit. Visit QuitNowIndiana.comfor more information.

ADRIENNE THOMAS

Tobacco Control of Elkhart County

Elkhart County Health Department

Elkhart

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