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Report calls on action to reduce smoking in pregnancy

16 October 2015
Baby in hospital

Bliss welcomes the publication of the Smoking Cessation in Pregnancy: A Review of the Challenge report released today by the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group.

The report is reviewing the Government’s progress made against recommendations made in the group’s 2013 report Smoking in Pregnancy: A call to action.

A number of these recommendations are being put into action, including improvements in referral pathways between midwives and stop smoking services, and activity to improve communication to pregnant women and health professionals.

The figures reveal that progress has been made, with the rates of smoking in pregnancy falling to 11.4 per cent, which is in line with the Government’s ambition of reducing the rate to less than 11 per cent.

While the news that rates are falling is welcomed, there are concerns about whether current progress can be maintained, particularly as in some parts to the country there have already been cuts to services helping pregnant women quit as a result of cuts to the public health budget.

The report has found big regional variations in the rates of smoking, with a higher proportion of women smoking in poorer areas. There are also still more than 70,000 women smoking during the pregnancy.

The Challenge Group has a number of recommendations for the Government to help continue to reduce the rates of smoking during pregnancy, and calls for a new national ambition to reduce these rates to less than six per cent by 2020.

Smoking poses a number of health risks and smoking during pregnancy has been linked with premature labour. Special care babies who have come home are also at risk if their parents smoke indoors as they can have fragile lungs and fall ill very easily, meaning cigarette smoke poses a risk to their health.

For more information on the risk of smoking to a vulnerable baby, visit

For help and advice to stop smoking, contact the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 0224 332 or visit


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