MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Maternal tobacco use is an important public health issue that impacts the health of mom and baby.

One in 14 women in the nation has reported using tobacco during pregnancy, according to the CDC.

First District Health Unit in Minot is now working to lower that number.

For many women, pregnancy is a powerful motivator to quit using tobacco.

Even with motivation, most people need help to quit, but nicotine is one of the most addictive substances around.

The Baby and Me Tobacco Free Program offers free counseling for pregnant women, as well as vouchers for baby items for women who quit and stay tobacco-free.

“We do what’s called motivational interviewing. So, it’s open-ended questions. So, the mom will give me information about her tobacco history, we’ll go over some form, we talk about her stress level because stress is a big deal, especially when you got a new baby coming,” said Bonnie Riely, a certified tobacco treatment specialist at First District Health Unit.

Women attend four prenatal sessions and six postnatal sessions to help them quit for good.

At each one-on-one session, participants are educated about the risks of smoking while pregnant and are given the tools and support needed to make a successful quit attempt.

Riely said, “The moms are very honest with me because they do want to stay tobacco-free. So, we work together as a team, and it’s a beautiful program.”

At each session, participants take a carbon monoxide monitor breath test.

At the third and fourth prenatal counseling sessions, participants can receive their first baby voucher if they test tobacco-free.

Tobacco users who live with pregnant women can also enroll, and by successfully quitting, they can receive vouchers after the baby is born too.

Riely explained, “They can take these to Walmart and they can use them on any baby products, such as formula, or clothing, car seats. Anything that’s geared towards the baby. So, they’ll get that as long as they stay nicotine free. They’ll get these during the third and fourth session and then once the baby is born for six more sessions afterward. So it’s a huge incentive.”

She said that she hopes to be a permanent support system for moms, and is passionate about helping the next generation live tobacco-free.

The Baby and Me Tobacco Free program is available year-round and is open to pregnant women of all ages.