RCM calls for reverse to public health cuts to support smoking rate reduction

on 25 June 2021 Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives NHS Safe high quality care Public Health PHE - Public Health England NICE - The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Smoking

Pregnant women must get the support they need to reduce smoking in pregnancy says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), as NICE and Public Health England publish a draft guideline to tackle the health burden of smoking.   The guidance published today, says that healthcare staff should give clear and up-to-date information on e-cigarettes to people who are interested in using them to stop smoking.

Clare Livingstone, professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Reducing smoking in pregnancy is key to reducing stillbirths and will also have real benefits for the health of women and their babies in also reducing other poor outcomes associated with smoking.  This is why it is critical that they get the support they need to stop smoking in as many ways as possible, and that we have the staffing and resources to do this. If the Government are really serious about reducing smoking rates, this means reversing cuts to public health funding which has seen many stop smoking services close.  All of this must also be as part of a broader package of support around the woman and her family throughout and beyond pregnancy.”

The guidance also recommends incentive voucher schemes to reducing smoking in pregnancy, and that vouchers should only be provided when smoking abstinence is validated by a biochemical test such as a carbon monoxide test.

Clare Livingstone added: “E-cigarettes and incentives are some of the tools we have to encourage women to stop smoking. We do back their use because they are proven to work. However, the use of carbon monoxide testing to support the voucher schemes must be done with sensitivity towards the woman, who will already be struggling with this addiction while also having to cope with the pressures and demands of her pregnancy.”


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

Notes to editors

The RCM’s Position Statement ‘Support to Quit Smoking in Pregnancy’ can be read at Publications (rcm.org.uk)

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.