Good progress but ‘alarmingly high’ pockets of smoking in pregnancy says RCM on new England statistics

By RCM on 15 June 2017 Smoking

The number of pregnant women in England smoking at the time of delivery has fallen according to statistics - covering April 2016 to March 2017 - published today by NHS Digital. Commenting on the statistics, Sarah Fox, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “These are encouraging figures and we need to see this downward trend continue. Smoking is one of the main contributors to stillbirths and if we can reduce the numbers smoking in pregnancy even further we can make a contribution to reducing stillbirth rates.

“There remains a lot of regional variation in these figures and some areas still have very high levels of smoking in pregnancy. It is important that these areas are targeted to bring these levels down.

“We have seen cuts to public health initiatives recently, including smoking cessation services. We need to see these reversed if we are to bring the rates down further and tackle those pockets where levels are still alarmingly high.

“We also need to ensure that there are enough midwives with the time to advise and support these women. England remains 3500 midwives short of the numbers needed and time pressures on midwives mean that it is increasingly difficult to offer that support to the levels midwives want to.

“Midwives are very influential in highlighting the health benefits of giving up smoking to women in pregnancy and of staying smoke free. Where there is continuity of high quality of midwifery support the health of mothers and babies will benefit. This includes using strategies such as carbon monoxide testing in collaboration with the woman.”

The statistics can be viewed at

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].


Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at