MAY 9 – More than 86,000 kids have lost their moms to smoking, according to data provided by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. That's one reason the Health Department of Northwest Michigan is encouraging every family to make Mother's Day a tobacco-free holiday.
"We need our moms," said Susan Pulaski, Community Health Coordinator. "There are 20 million women in the U.S. who still smoke, and we're losing more than 170,000 of them every year as a direct result of their tobacco use." Pulaski added that moms who quit smoking are not only protecting their own lives, but are also giving their daughters and sons a fighting chance to avoid the dangers of tobacco use.
"Moms set an example that lasts a lifetime," she said. "Children of parents who smoke are twice as likely to take up smoking themselves. But even if you do continue to smoke, you can take meaningful steps to protect your kids." The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates that 22 million children between ages three and 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke each year.
In addition to quitting smoking, Pulaski recommends maintaining a 100-percent smoke-free home and car – even if you do smoke – and having conversations with teens and younger children that illustrate the immediate and long-term physical damage smoking causes. She adds that asking questions and listening to your kids can tell you a lot about their attitudes, and their friends' attitudes, toward tobacco use.
"Be aware that tobacco companies are targeting your kids," she advised. "Their packaging and products are designed to stimulate interest among young people, despite the warnings and precautions they're required to include." For tobacco use prevention information, call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit www.michigan.gov/tobacco.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. Visit the Health Department online at www.nwhealth.org or call (800) 432-4121 for more information.