by DeJanay Booth, Carlsbad Current-Argus
April 10, 2017

Seven percent of births in New Mexico in 2014 were reportedly to mothers who smoked during their pregnancy, according to the KIDS COUNT data center.

Smoking during pregnancy is one form of secondhand smoking and can cause a baby to be born early and have a low birth weight, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

The state department collaborated with Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad, and the cities of Farmington and Roswell to raise awareness on the dangers of secondhand smoke through the campaign, “Kids for Smoke-Free Air Challenge.”

According to a news release from the Department of Health, the campaign will have a statewide and local approach to reduce tobacco-related illnesses, save money and lives. It is also a contest that can help raise up to $1,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad.

Children will work to collect signatures from adults pledging to make their home and vehicles smoke free. About 200 signatures are needed before April 28 for the club to receive the money.

“We’re really proud to be collaborating with Boys and Girls Clubs around the state,” said David Morgan, spokesman for the state Department of Health. “It is a great group of kids being able to reach out to families and friends about how secondhand smoke around them can affect their health at home.”

Morgan said raising awareness about secondhand smoke appears to be more effective when a child is the advocate.

“It’s a difference hearing a message from a person you love versus a stranger. When it’s your sons and daughters, you’re going to pay attention,” he said. “When we choose to smoke, we’re making a personal choice but we don’t think how that choice can effect us and our children.”

Parents may visit to complete an activity sheet with their children, watch videos and read a parent’s guide on protecting children from secondhand smoke.

The website offers tips for preventing secondhand smoke such as thanking passengers for not smoking, fill car ashtrays with change to prevent from using it, store cigarettes in out-of-reach areas and place a sign or decal in a vehicle as a reminder to remain smoke-free when children are present.

“Tobacco is still very much a challenge to overcome in New Mexico,” said Benjamín Jácquez, program manager of New Mexico Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, in the news release.

According to NMDOH, secondhand smoke around children can cause frequent ear infections, respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), wheezing, coughing and may trigger an asthma attack.

In 2015, the state department reported 94 SIDS deaths over a five-year period. SIDS is the leading cause of infant deaths for infants from one month to 12 months old.

Nine percent of children were reported to have asthma problems in the state, according to KIDS COUNT data center.

Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad board president Jeff Campbell said the club advocates against secondhand smoking by promoting a smoke-free facility.

“We are always trying to promote better health,” Campbell said.

For more information on pledging, visit the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad, located at 1602 W. Fox St, or call 575-885-8449.

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