Pregnant women receive shopping vouchers for smoking cessation

PREGNANT women should be given shopping vouchers as an incentive to help them quit smoking, a review has called for.

About 10 percent of women smoke at the time of childbirth – which increases the risk of pregnancy.

The government has been recommended to do more to help pregnant women trying to quit smoking


The government has been recommended to do more to help pregnant women trying to quit smokingPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

These include stillbirths, miscarriages and sudden infant death syndrome.

An independent tobacco study led by Dr. Javed Khan OBE also found that children of parents who smoke are almost three times more likely to pick up the habit.

The report contains 15 recommendations that encourage vaping and investment, aimed at tackling the problem of smoking and mental health.

The twelfth recommendation is to invest £15m a year to help pregnant women across the country quit.

dr Khan recommends the NHS should provide treatment at each stage.

He said: “There is strong evidence that women who receive incentives (in the form of shopping vouchers on condition of proven carbon monoxide abstinence) are 2.5 times more likely to quit.”

That would mean women would have to prove they didn’t smoke to get the coupons.

The report adds: “The government needs to create a national fund for evidence-based financial incentives to help all pregnant women quit.

“Every maternity ward should have a smoking cessation midwife on the front line with expert support and advice.”

The report says tackling smoking during pregnancy would save the NHS £87million a year.

As part of the plan, each NHS Trust would be named ‘Pregnancy Smoking Champion’.

In addition, every maternity ward needs a “smoking cessation midwife” who can provide expert support, advice and treatment, the report recommends.

Part of the plan is that NHS services should offer safer alternatives to smoking.

While e-cigarettes contain some toxins, the Royal College of Midwives says they have far lower levels than tobacco smoke.

The advice states: “If a pregnant woman who has smoked decides to use an e-cigarette (vaping) and it will help her to quit and remain smoke free, she should be supported in doing so
do this.”

The 15 recommendations from Dr. Khan’s report

  1. Invest £125m to achieve a smoke-free 2030
  2. Increase tobacco age from 18 by one year per year
  3. Increase the cost
  4. Introduction of a tobacco license for retailers
  5. Improving surveillance and enforcement of illicit tobacco use
  6. Reduce the attractiveness of smoking
  7. Increase smoke-free places
  8. Offer vaping as a substitute
  9. Local services offer more support
  10. Invest £15m in smoking cessation media campaigns
  11. NHS prioritizes prevention
  12. Invest £15m to help pregnant women quit
  13. Fight smoking in people with mental health problems
  14. Invest £8 million to prioritize regional smoking cessation interventions
  15. Improve data and insights on tobacco use

This also falls under recommendation 8 of the report, which states that services should offer vaping as an alternative.

dr Khan said the aim of the report is to help people quit smoking completely.

He explained that there is a lot of “misinformation” about vaping and that it’s a good tool to help people turn away for good.

The endorsement of vapes has been welcomed by the industry, which claims millions of lives could be saved through the replacement.

Mark Oates, director of consumer advocacy group We Vape, said: “Doctors need to be informed that vaping is safer than smoking and all smoking cessation services should offer e-cigarettes as an alternative.

“That’s because 56 percent of smokers still think vaping is just as dangerous or worse than smoking.

“Therefore, the medical professionals who go to them when they develop smoking-related diseases need to be sure of the facts,” he added.

The Department of Health and Social Care said tackling tobacco use and helping people quit smoking could fight 15 types of cancer.

Recent data show that an estimated one in four deaths from all types of cancer – including lung cancer, throat cancer and acute myeloid leukemia – is related to smoking.

The NHS has been helping people quit smoking, but Dr. Khan warned that further action must be taken.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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