Pregnant women who smoke to get vouchers if they quit

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Pregnant women could be offered shopping vouchers and other incentives to give up smoking.

Women can spend the vouchers in high street shops or save them up to visit Blackpool’s attractions.

The proposal is included in details of a new stop smoking service being considered by health chiefs in the resort.

It comes after nearly a third of expectant mums in the resort continue to smoke.

Maternity health trainers would provide mums-to-be with intensive support throughout pregnancy and beyond including regular monitoring of their carbon monoxide levels to prove they have given up tobacco.

A report to the council’s adult social care and health scrutiny committee says the scheme would maintain “support throughout pregnancy and 12 weeks postpartum (post-natal or following pregnancy), through offering incentive payment at stages throughout the pregnancy.”

A council spokesman said the payment would be offered in the form of LOVE2SHOP vouchers, which can be used in more than 100 UK shops including Argos, Debenhams, WHSmith, New Look and Oasis.

They can also be used at a number of attractions including Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Madame Tussauds, Alton Towers and Legoland.

The vouchers would be offered to smokers only. Women who do not have a smoking habit would not qualify for the offer.

According to an NHS Digital report published earlier this year, 27.8 per cent of expectant mothers in Blackpool smoked until they gave birth between last October and December, the worst rate in the country.

The proposed new stop smoking service will also offer more support to all smokers in the town.

This will include advice in leaflets and websites, advice on nicotine replacement therapies, and access to helplines in a bid to make the service more accessible for people.

The report says the new service could help as many as 832 people give up smoking each year.

It would cost £353,614 to deliver which is a 35 per cent saving on the previous service.

Councillors will consider the report when they meet tomorrow.

Coun Amy Cross, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for reducing health inequalities, said: “We have analysed the problems in Blackpool and the benefits of targeting those that need to stop smoking. One of the key groups is pregnant women.

“Supporting mothers-to-be to quit smoking during pregnancy helps give unborn children a good, healthy and fair start in life.

“Smoking during pregnancy is a major health problem and is associated with various adverse effects during pregnancy, including an increased risk of miscarriage, premature

birth, low birthweight and stillbirth. Evidence shows that incentive-based interventions are effective in supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy.

In order to take part in the Blackpool scheme, expectant mums will have to set a quit date, stay smoke free throughout pregnancy and for at least 12 weeks post-pregnancy.

“Women registered with the service will have weekly carbon monoxide monitoring for the first four weeks on the scheme. Following this, they will have monthly CO tests.

“The scheme forms part of a wider model which includes the three priority groups: young people, pregnant women, and those with secondary health problems such as heart disease.”

Children born to mums who smoke are more likely to be an anti-social teen and their behaviour increases the more their mums puff away, it has been suggested. They are more at risk of getting a criminal record for violence, theft or vandalism than those who were not exposed to tobacco toxins in the womb.

The study compared mums who admit to smoking during pregnancy and the criminal records of their children.

It found mothers of nearly three fifths of anti-social teens – 59 per cent – had smoked while pregnant with them, and in just over a third of cases, their mothers had smoked at least 20 cigarettes-a-day.