Shameful: Number of pregnant mums smoking in Greater Manchester some of worst in country

By Jack Poland

Pregnant mums across Greater Manchester are refusing to quit smoking with areas of the region some of the worst in the country for keeping up the habit, research reveals this week. 

Oldham mums have been named as one of the worst in not only the region but also the country with 17.1% of expectant mothers refusing to bin the cigs.

Greater Manchester, with 13.6% smoking, is higher than the national average of 12.7% though only 6.5% of women in Trafford and 6.7% in Central Manchester were smokers during pregnancy in 2012 and 2013.

Tina Williams, of Tobacco Free Futures who conducted the survey, said that despite the statistics for Trafford and Central Manchester, the data for the rest of Greater Manchester and the North West is not so encouraging.

“While for England smoking during pregnancy rates are falling, 11.8% of women were recorded as smoking at the time of delivery during the period from the beginning of April to the end of September 2013,” she said.

“In the North West these rates were higher at 15.9%.

“Given the significant and frequently tragic cost of smoking during pregnancy to society and to families, it is critical that rates of smoking in pregnancy are reduced.”

Smoking in pregnancy can increase the risk of illnesses such as low birth weight, asthma, learning difficulties, diabetes and even miscarriage and stillbirth. 

With expert and prolonged support, pregnant women can give up smoking and continue to be smoke-free following birth.

Blackpool has the highest percentage of pregnant smokers in the country at 27.4% compared to the lowest in Westminster which was at 0.5%.

Simon Clark, director of pro-smoker group Forest, believes that some women are given unfair criticism for smoking during pregnancy.

“What we don’t like to see is pregnant women bullied to quit smoking,” he said.

“We’ve seen examples in recent years where some celebrities who are pregnant have received a lot of abuse online and in newspapers for continuing to smoke and we think that reaction is quite wrong.

“There’s such an anti-smoking culture these days that I think pregnant women are often singled out for unnecessary abuse.”

Mr Clark did however stress that pregnant women considering smoking should seek medical advice.

“We would always advise pregnant women to take the advice of their GP and if the advice is not to smoke during pregnancy then they really should take it,” he said.

“We wouldn’t condone people for smoking during pregnancy but we wouldn’t give them abuse either.”

The new data comes as the Government on Thursday revived the prospect of introducing mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison, announced that a review will take place in time for the next general election.

Picture courtesy of Zippaparazza via Fllickr, with thanks.

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