Thirty years ago it was a common occurrence to see a mother driving her children around with the window cracked just enough for a slim stream of smoke to escape. But today the world knows better. The effects of secondhand smoke can have a huge health impact on a small child’s growing body.

Mother’s Day is a great time for moms to remember the important role they play in influencing the choices their kids make regarding tobacco use. Unfortunately, tobacco use among women remains a serious problem: nearly 17.3 million women currently smoke, an estimated 200,000 women die every year from smoking, and more than 86,000 kids have already lost their mom to smoking.

“It’s hard for a mother to protect her children from the toxins of cigarette smoke if she is a smoker,” said Amy Winter, Director of the Office of Tobacco Control with the Mississippi State Department of Health. “Quitting will not only show her children that she will do anything to protect them, but that she wants to live a long and prosperous life for them.”

Nationally, 280 children die each year from respiratory illness caused by secondhand smoke. Mothers who protect their children from secondhand smoke reduce their risks of ear infections, respiratory infections, severe asthma attacks and other health issues. In 2013, there were more than 8,000 reports of potentially toxic exposure to tobacco and nicotine products among children five years old or younger, caused primarily by young children ingesting cigarettes.

“I realize a lot of people may think quitting smoking is easier said than done,” said Helen Boerner, Project Director of the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition of Itawamba and Monroe Counties. “But nowadays the most important thing is simply the will to quit. The Mississippi State Department of Health is offering the bulk of the support with free tobacco cessation treatment and counseling. People who get help quitting are twice as likely to quit for good.”

For more information and free help, visit the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline at or call 1-800-QUITNOW or 1-800-784-8669. Follow the Quitline on Facebook at or Twitter at

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