AKRON, Ohio – Pregnant smokers in one northeast Ohio county can get free diapers in exchange for permanently kicking the habit through a new health program.
Summit County's Baby & Me-Tobacco Free program aims to reduce premature births and infant mortality, as studies have linked smoking during pregnancy to preterm labor and health problems for infants, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
The program's incentive could be worth hundreds of dollars per mother. Pregnant smokers can earn a $25 voucher each month for one year if they quit smoking, attend at least four support group sessions and prove they're smoke-free by passing monthly carbon monoxide tests after their children are born.
Participant Brittney Lykes is expecting twins this summer, so she could get twice as many vouchers if she is successful -- a significant incentive for the Akron woman, who already has two children.
"I don't want any harm done to them or my other ones I have here," said Lykes, 24. "You have to think about the babies."
Lykes said she used to smoke half a pack each day or two but has cut back to one cigarette a day and is hopeful about quitting before the twins come.
The local program has a budget of about $61,000. It is funded through a state grant and modeled after the Baby & Me-Tobacco Free program launched in Jamestown, New York, 14 years ago.
That program's creator and director, Laurie Adams, said it provides positive messaging to help moms feel supported during the challenge of going smoke-free.
"We're getting these moms to quit during the course of pregnancy, but we're keeping them quit, which is the toughest part," Adams said.