Less than one-in four (24%) Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) met the national target of having 6% or less pregnant women known to be smoking at the time of delivery in the final quarter of 2020-21, according to official figures.
New data published by NHS Digital shows that in quarter four of 2020-21, only 32 out of the 134 CCGs to submit data met the target.
On average, nearly one-in-10 (9.5%) women were known to be smokers at time of delivery in 2020-21, marking a 4.2% decrease since 2010-11.
When broken down by CCG, the lowest proportions of people smoking at time of delivery were found in the south of England, with West Essex CCG achieving the lowest rate (0%), followed by West London CCG (1.2%) and Tower Hamlets CCG (2.5%).
By contrast, the highest proportions were found in CCGs in the north of England, with Hull CCG ranking highest (22.8%), followed by North East Lincolnshire CCG (18.8%) and Blackpool CCG (18.6%).
The Tobacco Control Plan, which was published in July 2017, outlined a national ambition to reduce smoking among pregnant women (measured at the time of giving birth) to 6% by the end of 2022.
This target was met by 17 out of 18 CCGs in the London NHS England region, but by only 15 CCGs outside of the capital.
Meanwhile, in Q4 of 2020-21, the number of maternities with an unknown smoking status was 1.3%. Eight CCGs recorded more than 5% of their maternities were unknown:
- Milton Keynes CCG (33.0%)
- Devon CCG (9.6%)
- Bassetlaw CCG (6.7%)
- Bedfordshire CCG (6.0%)
- Dorset CCG (5.6%)
- Mid Essex CCG (5.6%)
- West Suffolk CCG (5.3%)
- West Essex CCG (5.1%)
Last year, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Cancer Research UK warned that funding cuts across England threatened national targets to become a smoke-free country by 2030, after finding almost a third of local authorities no longer offered specialist stop smoking services.
Data for Q4 2020-21 was submitted by all CCGs in England except Leeds CCG. However, CCG mergers announced in February of this year are set to reduce the total number of CCGs in England from 135 to 106.