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Smoking rates in pregnancy fall to all time low

Smoking rates in pregnancy fall to all time low
By Beth Gault
4 July 2024

Smoking rates among pregnant women have fallen to the lowest levels since records began, according to NHS Digital statistics.

Rates of smoking at the point of delivery were 8.8% in 2022/23 among pregnant women but fell to 7.4% in 2023/24, which is a difference of around 6,000 women. However, this is still above the national ambition of 6% or less.

Only 28 out of 106 submitting sub-ICBs met the national ambition of 6% or less in the fourth quarter of 2023/24, NHS Digital said.

John Waldron, policy and public affairs manager at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said:
‘Following a long period of stagnation, we are witnessing record falls in rates of maternal smoking thanks to targeted interventions and support services.

‘The integration of smoking cessation into routine care for pregnant women and people shows what can be achieved for smokers.’

Clare Livingstone, professional policy advisor with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: ‘We are thrilled to see record falls in smoking rates among pregnant women, a testament to the dedication and hard work of our maternity services. This achievement is a significant milestone in improving the health of mothers and babies.

‘By integrating smoking cessation support into routine care, we are not only protecting the health of the current generation but also setting a strong foundation for the future. The collaboration between our midwives, healthcare professionals, and the wider community is truly making a difference, and we are committed to continuing this vital work to ensure even greater reductions in smoking rates among expectant mothers.’

Last year, the Government said ICSs would be expected to take a lead on smoking prevention as part of a national ‘smoke free scheme’ which included smokers being offered vapes to help them quit.

In February, nearly 400,000 vape kits were set to be sent to smokers in England as part of the swap-to-stop scheme.

At least four ICBs and more than 80 localities expressed interest in the scheme with 379,562 ‘vape starter kits’ requested as of February 2024.

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