Hilo Medical Center

Hilo Medical Center helps new parents understand dangers of secondhand smoke

When it’s time to take a newborn baby home from Hilo Medical Center, parents have everything they need to create a healthy transition at home: diapers and diaper bag, breastfeeding information, car seat safely installed and now smoke-free (and vape-free) cars and homes information packets.

Hilo Medical Center, in partnership with the Coalition for Tobacco-Free East Hawai`i (TFEH) has provided more than 1,600 Smoke-Free Cars and Homes information packets to new parents as they are discharged from Hilo Medical Center. That is over 100 packets a month!

Why is this so important? According to the CDC, in children, secondhand smoke may cause any or all of the following:

– Ear infections
– More frequent and severe asthma attacks
– Respiratory symptoms (for example, coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath)
– Respiratory infections (bronchitis and pneumonia)
– A greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

According to Elena Cabatu, Director of Marketing and Public & Legislative Affairs for Hilo Medical Center:

Hilo Medical Center has included a helpful checklist of things to have prior to departing the hospital as well as promotional materials from TFEH’s Smoke-Free Cars campaign in its newborn baskets; given to every family welcoming a newborn into the world. The newborn baskets are filled with positive messaging to encourage family bonding and promote good health. The Smoke Free Cars postcards made a tremendous amount of good sense to include the basket. We’ve reached about 1,600 families since we started in April 2016.

The education packets are a combination of materials created by the University of Hawai`i at Hilo School of Nursing, including  family-friendly smoke-free & vape-free post cards and a trifold pamphlet on smoke-free cars and homes from the EPA. Raising awareness of  smoke-free & vape-free vehicles when a minor is present will hopefully go beyond new parents to grandparents and other family members.

Smoke-free car laws — just like child safety seats, seat belts, and no cellphone use while driving — help to protect the health and safety of our children. TFEH looks forward to expanding this service to North Hawai`i Hospital in the near future and to Kona Community hospital in 2018.