Smoking is particularly dangerous for women, and not just because it causes lung cancer. According to the American Lung Association, female smokers 35 or older are more than 10 times likely to die from emphysema or bronchitis than nonsmokers.
Pregnant smokers pass nicotine and carbon monoxide to the fetus, denying the baby vital nutrients and oxygen. Smoking during pregnancy accounts for more than 20 percent of low-birth-weight babies, up to 14 percent of preterm deliveries and about 10 percent of all infant deaths.
Mothers who smoke while breastfeeding pass nicotine to their children through the breast milk. And children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma, colds, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases.
If you need help to stop smoking, contact your doctor or hospital or call one of the following three organizations:
- The American Lung Association offers brochures, self-help manuals and videotapes on smoking cessation, as well as nationwide Freedom From Smoking clinics. Call 1-800-LUNG-USA.
- The American Cancer Society publishes brochures and a stop-smoking manual and offers the FreshStart smoking cessation program. Call 1-800-ACS-2345.
- The American Heart Association offers brochures on the risks of smoking and heart disease, as well as methods for controlling weight gain during smoking cessation. Call 1-800-AHA-USA1.