Whilst the findings were welcomed the government is being urged to continue to invest in resources to reduce smoking in pregnancy even further.
The statistics show that in 2014/15 11.4% of women were recorded as smoking at the time of delivery, an improvement from 12% in 2013/14 . There was considerable regional variation with 2.1% of women reported as smoking at the time of delivery in Central London while 27.2% were smoking at the end of their pregnancy in Blackpool.
Francine Bates, Chief Executive of the Lullaby Trust and Co-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group  said ‘Whilst the Government appears to be on track to meet its current ambition, progress must not stop there. Smoking in pregnancy remains a major risk factor in sudden infant deaths. When the Government publishes its new tobacco control strategy we want to see strong commitment to further action to reduce smoking in pregnancy’.
RCM’s Director for midwifery, Louise Silvertion, said ‘Targets for reduction are fine but they need to be backed up with resources. What is needed is retention of local authority funding for family based smoking cessation to include pregnant women. We know that women in poverty are more likely to smoke so extra help and support needs to be given. Women who smoke need to know that they are increasing the chances of abnormal fetus growth and risking their baby being stillborn.’
‘The evidence about the damage to women and their developing baby from smoking is large and growing, so whilst the fall is welcome we must strive to reduce it even further. This is particularly needed in high smoking areas’.
‘Health providers should ensure there are enough midwives with the time to offer women support, advice and referral to smoking cessation services. Continuity of care is also important so that midwives can develop a trusting relationship with women, which is critical if women are to feel comfortable in talking about issues such as this’.
‘There is also a need for support services that work with the whole family. It is important for the health of the foetus and babies that the woman is in a smoke free environment and it’s vital that local authority public health spending on smoking cessation services are maintained’.
Notes and Links:
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. ASH receives core funding from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
 HSCIC SATOD (Smoking Status At Time of Delivery) http://www.hscic.gov.uk/datacollections/ssatod
 The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group was established in 2012 to examine new ways of tackling the problem. In the coming months, the Challenge Group will publish a review of progress and recommendations for further action to help inform the Government’s future work in this area.
 Following the launch of ASH’s new report, Smoking Still Kills, on 10th June, the Public Health Minister Jane Ellison announced that the Government was planning a new tobacco control strategy to replace the current one which will expire at the end of 2015.
Photo credit: ©Sondem