The government’s target for reducing smoking among pregnant women in England will be missed by a decade, a recent analysis suggests.
The target was to reduce the rate of smoking to 6 percent by 2022 but analysis by The Times suggests that this target will not be met until 2030 at the earliest.
The target was announced in July 2017 as part of the Tobacco Control Plan for England.
Smoking while pregnant increases the likelihood of miscarriage and can lead to premature delivery, stillbirth and sudden infant death.
Doctors have criticised the government’s current strategy, stating that it would fail if local authorities continued to make harsh cuts to stop-smoking services.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh and co-chairwoman of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, said:
“National and regional public health infrastructure is vital to this, but its future is uncertain following the government decision to close Public Health England.
“The government must urgently clarify the future of these functions if we are to find a way to truly end smoking in pregnancy.”
Data provided by the NHS for the year revealed that only 37 organisations had achieved the 6 percent target.
The data also showed that nearly 60,000 women in England were smokers when they gave birth in the year leading up to March 2020.
This accounts for 10 percent of births.
The Royal College of Midwives has urged pregnant smokers to completely switch to vaping to help them quit.
The guidelines, issued in 2019, acknowledge that e-cigarettes are not completely safe but are far less harmful that combustible tobacco.
The guidelines state:
“If a pregnant woman who has been smoking chooses to use an e-cigarette (vaping) and it helps her to quit smoking and stay smokefree, she should be supported to do so.”