As Kent marks national No Smoking Day (8 March), a pilot campaign is underway in Sheppey to reduce the numbers of women smoking in pregnancy.
Led by Kent County Council’s Public Health team, it is mainly focused on women under 30 and means a number of agencies working closely together to support the women, giving information on how to go about stopping smoking.
Sheppey was chosen for the pilot due to it having some of the highest rates of smoking in pregnancy in Kent.
Figures for last year reveal that parts of the Isle of Sheppey saw over 40 per cent of women smoking at time of delivery.
This is double the number in Swale where almost a fifth of mothers giving birth were recorded as smoking, and well above the Kent average of 13 per cent and the national average of 11 per cent.*
Kelly McCarthy is one of the project officers at the Seashells Children’s Centre in Sheerness, working on the campaign.
She said: “If women choose to stop, my colleague and I will be joining other key workers to give them support and help through this transition. We will be closely working with other services so women get the best advice and help with everyone working together.”
She added: “We don’t just want them to stop smoking we want to show them why it is harmful and help them choose to stop smoking with advice and support along the way.
“We want to show people they can do it and the services are able to work together for the best outcome as well as working on a one-to-one basis. We would like to see how people’s journeys go with support from all services.”
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Previously, stop smoking services seemed to work independently from one another, we are now working to tie them together and ensure the offer around stop smoking for women and families is more effective.
“We want to raise awareness of the facts, and dispel some of the myths and misconceptions around smoking in pregnancy so mums know the harm it causes to both mother and baby and try and reduce the number of people smoking on Sheppey, with the aim of then repeating the campaign across the county.”
It is estimated that there are around 225,000 smokers in Kent (approximately 19 per cent of the population) and that smoking costs the county around £391 million every year, including the £56million in direct costs to the NHS for treating smoking related ill health, along with £3m treating the effects of passive smoking in non-smokers.
It’s also believed that £33 million costs are needed to provide care in later life as a result of smoking related illness and there is a £300m cost to industry due to loss of productivity in the workplace.
Kent County Council supports the national “Smokefree” campaign by urging residents to consider the range of quit support options and sign-up to smoking cessation services.
Find out more information on all the support services available and the Smokefree Kent campaign at www.kent.gov.uk/smokefree
Note to Editors:
*18.9per cent of Swale mothers were recorded as smoking at time of delivery between April 2015 and March 2016 (or in 2015/16). From http://www.kpho.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/66688/Smoking-at-time-of-delivery.pdf
Picture (Left to right): Nicola Holdsworth, Pat Bacon and Kelly McCarthy from the Seashells Children’s Centre in Sheerness.