Pregnant women smoking rates in Wakefield slashed

Smoking rates among expectant mums in Wakefield were among some of the UK's highest two years ago.
Smoking rates among expectant mums in Wakefield were among some of the UK's highest two years ago.

The numbers of pregnant women smoking in Wakefield have fallen significantly.

Smoking rates among mums-to-be in the district were identified as among the highest in the country in 2017, when figures showed that around 19.5 per cent were using cigarettes.

Two years on, that number has been cut to 16 per cent after a stop smoking drive by the council and health bosses.

Pregnant smokers now have to opt out of help and support services offered by the NHS, rather than opting in.

In contrast to Wakefield, smoking among pregnant women has actually slightly increased across Yorkshire as a whole and the figures have remained stagnant across England.

The council's public health principal Jez Mitchell said that recent efforts to tackle the problem had to be considered a success.

Speaking at a Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Board meeting, he said: "There's still a long way to go, but the money we've invested has had a significant impact. It's an incredible piece of work.

"Other areas aren't seeing the decline that we've seen, so it's no coincidence.

"A lot of resources have been put into this, and it's really important that we sustain that investment so we can continue to drive that progress."

In a bid to cut smoking rates across the whole local population, the NHS trust which runs Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals recently banned staff and patients from lighting up anywhere on those sites.

Mr Mitchell said that government legislation was now expected to be passed to back that move up.

The council is now exploring initiatives to encourage households with children to go completely smoke free.

The meeting was told that around 42 per cent of youngsters in the Wakefield district are exposed to smoke indoors on a daily basis.

Mr Mitchell added: "I know this is a sensitive agenda, because a lot of people will feel like their own house is the only place left that they can smoke.

"But I think children have the right to grow up in a smoke free home."

Local Democracy Reporting Service