Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are 44 percent more likely to die before their first birthday, according to Cradle Cincinnati. The group wants to do something about that.
"If we can reduce the rate at which moms do smoke during pregnancy," says Hamilton County Commissioner and Cradle Cincinnati Co-chair Todd Portune, "we're going to have a great impact on reducing that causal factor of why babies are born preterm, why they are born with low birth weights, and why too many babies still die in Hamilton County before their first birthday."
Cradle Cincinnati is launching a four part approach to encourage pregnant women to stop smoking.
- Promoting 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Any pregnant mom can call to get resources that will help her quit. Next week, in partnership with CVS Health, billboards go up with a message of support for moms. “Rather than the usual reprimand that smokers are so used to hearing, we worked with local women to develop a message that empowers them to quit,” said Chris Rowland of Deskey, the firm that designed the campaign.
- Motivational interviewing during prenatal care. Cradle Cincinnati is working to widely spread an evidence-based technique called the 5 A’s. When clinical staff successfully implement Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist and Arrange steps with patients, it is proven that more moms quit smoking.
- Hiring a Maternal Smoking Cessation Health Educator. Housed at Hamilton County Public Health, Cincinnati now has a full time champion dedicated to maternal smoking cessation.
- Developing new support groups. Community social support groups help empower women by bringing them together in a supportive atmosphere to discuss their pregnancies while also providing resources and fostering skill development to cope with tobacco cessation.
Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram is excited about the new health educator. "For the first time, our community now has someone who wakes up everyday thinking about how to help pregnant women quit smoking," Ingram says.
Cincinnati Council member and Cradle Cincinnati co-chair Wendell Young says billboards will start going up soon in parts of town with higher rates of pregnant women smokers. He says studies show finger-wagging doesn't work.
"We began our work by asking dozens of local women what would help them quit," says Young. "We heard a common theme: 'I need support.' 'I need to be told that I'm strong enough to do this.' 'I need to be lifted up, not torn down.'"
The group brought on media firm Deskey to design the campaign around the idea that women are queens in their households.
"We believe our city is filled with women who take on the responsibility, power, and strength of queens in their families," Young says. "And the queen does not need to smoke. She's strong enough to quit."
The campaign will include 50-60 billboards initially. More signage and materials will roll out soon for clinics, hospitals, doctors' offices, bus shelters, etc. Deskey is planning audio-branding on buses as well. Using GPS technology, riders will hear audio messages with stories and testimonials and the like just before a bus drives past a billboard.