Healthy Living: Ending the cycle of smoking
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Most mothers-to-be know smoking while pregnant has adverse effects on a growing baby.
Upstate Cancer Center Medical Director Dr. Leslie Kohman said, "They are very subject to low birth weight, prematurity, asthma as children, all kinds of respiratory complications, more ear infections."
That's why many mothers-to-be quit smoking while pregnant. But often, they're right back to the habit once the baby is born.
Crouse Clinical Psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Berry said, "The chemistry of your body changes a lot while you're pregnant, so you feel differently, so the craving may not be there because of the chemical change in your body."
Health experts say it's not just what happens while the baby is in the womb that will affect if that child will become a smoker later in life.
St. Joseph's Smoking Cessation Center Director Chris Owens said, "When they see their parents smoking, that's something they aspire to. They can't wait to be old enough to get the tobacco products on their own so they can emulate the behaviors that their mother or father is participating in."
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that children of smokers are four times more likely than children of non-smokers to become smokers later in life.
Kohman said, "They may be more susceptible to nicotine addiction because of the genetics they've inherited from their parents. Kids do what their parents do and parents are going to have hard time having kids not smoke if they're smoking at home."
Berry said, "The parent is teaching if you're feeling bored, you smoke. If you're feeling anxious, you smoke. If you want to get together with other people, you smoke."
Experts say education is the key to putting an end to the cycle.
Owens said, "Health classes in the schools, it seems like they're doing a much better job of informing the kids of the health related consequences of smoking. And to dovetail off of that, it's the counter-marketing that New York State does a really good job of the denormalization of tobacco use."
Health professionals say if you're a parent who smokes, the best thing to do for your child is quit and talk with them about the dangers of smoking.