Stop smoking incentive scheme a positive step but investment on many fronts needed says RCM

on 11 April 2023 RCM Maternity Services MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government Expectant Mothers Expectant fathers England Infant Mortality Midwife Shortage Midwifery Workforce NHS Funding Poverty Pregnancy Prevention Public Health Reproductive Health Smoking Specialist Midwives Stillbirth

More investment is needed on multiple fronts to continue reducing smoking in pregnancy rates says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The College’s call follows today’s Government announcement of a financial incentive scheme to encourage pregnant women to stop smoking. The announcement is part of the Government’s response to the Khan Review: Making Smoking Obsolete published in June 2022.

Deborah Longe, Quality and Standards Advisor at the RCM, and its public health lead, said: “This is a positive step and one we welcome. The evidence suggests that these schemes - which have been tried locally and regionally - do help to reduce smoking in pregnancy. Statistically rates of stillbirths are higher amongst women who smoke in pregnancy and quitting smoking is also simply one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their baby’s health.

“However, this move must be matched with Government and local investment in other areas that help pregnant women to quit smoking. Significant reductions in public health budgets have resulted in cuts to smoking cessation services and support and this needs to be reversed. Also, longstanding, and serious midwife shortages are affecting the ability of midwives to offer women advice and support to stop smoking. The contact a midwife has with women during pregnancy is a window of opportunity to make a significant impact on their health, but they need the resources behind them to do this effectively. Resources must also be targeted towards more disadvantaged communities where smoking in pregnancy tends to be higher.”

The RCM has developed resources for midwives and maternity support workers to help women quit smoking. These include support to quit smoking guidance and online learning courses.

Deborah Longe added, “If the Government really is serious about this, investment must come on multiple fronts and this is not happening. We must invest for the long-term now because it will save lives and money in the future.”


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

Notes to Editor 

The RCM’s Support to Quit Smoking publication can be read at rcm-position-statement-support-to-quit-smoking-in-pregnancy.pdf.

See also e-cigarettes-in-pregnancy.pdf (

For RCM members there is an i-learn module 'Very Brief Advice on Smoking for Pregnant Women' at Very Brief Advice (VBA) on smoking for pregnant women (

The Khan report can be read at The Khan review: making smoking obsolete - GOV.UK (

The Royal College of Midwives (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 | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.