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Smoking expectant mothers paid to quit

Oregon Public Broadcasting has outlined the town of

Oregon Public Broadcasting has outlined the town of Eugene’s plan to pay women a total of $200 in gift cards over the course of their pregnancy if they successfully stay off cigarettes. (July 18, 2005) (Credit: Getty Images)

Quitting smoking is a task that has long plagued those who light, but while most choose a plan that feels comfortable to them, what happens when a female smoker is pregnant?

Suddenly the decision to quit becomes one of necessity rather than free will.

Risking side-effects such as spontaneous abortion, premature birth, low birth weight and in some cases Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is often enough motivation for most expectant mothers to quit. But what about women whose addictions are too great to just simply kick the habit?

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One state is making plans to help those individuals, testing a new incentive program that aims to help moms-to-be quit smoking during their pregnancies and beyond.

A recent story published and aired by Oregon Public Broadcasting outlines the town of Eugene’s plan to pay women a total of $200 in gift cards over the course of their pregnancy if they successfully stay off cigarettes.

Dr. Holly Jo Hodges, one of the doctors running the program at the highlighted facility, had this to say of the expectations for the incentives, “ . . . our goal is to get 33 percent, a third of those women, to quit smoking with this program. That's our goal. Right now, we know that 18 percent or less are actually successful.”

The breakdown in Oregon’s program is as follows: If an expectant mother comes in for her 16-week appointment and is negative in a nicotine check, she receives $20; at 28-weeks she receives $30; $50 at 36-weeks and a final reward of $100 if the new mother is still nicotine free 6-weeks after her child is born.

The gift cards would be good for use in department stores toward the purchase of items like diapers, groceries, clothing and other household supplies. Tobacco, alcohol and firearm products would not be available for purchase with the money.

Andrea Spatarella, a nurse practitioner with North Shore LIJ’s Center for Tobacco Control, citing data released by Tobacco Free Kids, said currently, New York ranks 14th lowest in the expectant mothers smoking with a rate of just 8.1%.

“Very often just achieving and maintaining pregnancy is enough incentive for a woman to quit [smoking],” Spatarella said.

However, women whose addictions are more severe, she added, are special cases.

In those instances more assistance is needed including a combination of “support from doctors and lifestyle changes” explained Spatarella, noting that a program like the one in Oregon might “add the push that they need” to quit for good.

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