Smoking in pregnancy and following childbirth

Smoking in pregnancy has well known detrimental effects for the growth and development of the baby and health of the mother. On average, smokers have more complications during pregnancy and labour, including bleeding during pregnancy, placental abruption and premature rupture of membranes.

Encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking during pregnancy may also help them kick the habit for good, and thus provide health benefits for the mother and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke by the infant.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious pregnancy-related health problems. These include complications during labour and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, low birth-weight and sudden unexpected death in infancy.

One of the four key ambitions of the Tobacco Control Plan (2017) is to reduce smoking in pregnancy (as recorded at time of delivery) to 6% or less.


Resources to help midwifery teams support smokefree pregnancies

Public Health England has worked with the NHS and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training to develop new e-learning resources highlighting the importance of supporting women to have a smokefree pregnancy, focussing on the delivery of Very Brief Advice (VBA) and Carbon Monoxide monitoring. There is also a series of new educational materials to support local training on this issue. The new e-learning resources have been developed to complement existing e-learning programmes and include two short films to help maternity teams think about real-life situations they may face and consider how they can act to offer women the best possible support. The new resources are available here (registration required to access).


Below you will find further links to reports and data related to smoking in pregnancy.


Smoking Status at Time of Delivery (SATOD) data 

Challenge Group Report (2013). Smoking cessation in pregnancy: A call to action: 

Infant feeding survey (2010) – survey now discontinued

Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012. Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays:

Estimating the costs to the NHS of smoking in pregnancy for pregnant women and infants

Royal College of Physicians (2010) Passive Smoking in Children:

NCSCT Smoking in pregnancy Very Brief Advice training module: 

Test Your Breath CO screening information (available in English and 7 other languages):

Saving babies lives: a care bundle to reduce stillbirth:

The Royal College of Midwives blog:

Preconcetion care: making the case