By Kayla Carter
The Carter County Health Council unveiled a new plan Wednesday for the coming year to combat smoking cigarettes during pregnancy.
Carter County Health Department Director Caroline Hurt said this is only one portion of a three-part state project aiming to reduce and potentially eliminate the effects of tobacco use on unborn children, toddlers and adolescents.
“There are three prime focus areas,” Hurt said. “Each county, this one included, will have to address each one of the focus areas at some point during the three-year period.”
The focus areas are reducing and attempting to eliminate pregnancy smoking, the initiation of smoking among adolescents and the exposure of second-hand smoke on children 5 years old and younger.
Hurt said Carter County decided to kick off the program with pregnancy smoking, based on statistics released by the Tennessee Department of Health.
“That was based on data driving us toward that need area and existing health care resources,” she said.
According to the TDH, 31.3 percent of women in Carter County smoked during pregnancy compared to the state average of 16.9 percent.
According to the Tennessee Public Health website, the funding comes from tobacco companies that have acknowledged damages caused by tobacco use.
Gov. Bill Haslam and the General Assembly agreed to appropriate $5 million per year for three years to the Tennessee Department of Health to prevent long-term harm and costs associated with tobacco use.