New figures for the borough of Bracknell Forest show that the number of pregnant smokers has fallen by 2.5% over the last year. The percentage of pregnant smokers last year was 9.2% and the figure is now 6.7%.
Bracknell Forest has seen the largest reduction out of all boroughs within the south-east of England. Local health professionals believe the reasons for this are due to successful anti smoking campaigns and the wide reaching support networks available throughout the local area.
While these figures are pleasing, council health teams maintain there is still much work to be done in ensuring pregnant women who want to quit smoking continue to get the support they need. They are particularly keen to emphasise to expectant mothers throughout the borough the importance of not feeling ashamed or embarrassed in asking for help to make this important lifestyle change. They also want to reassure them that they will not be judged for reaching out to support services to get the help they need.
Dr Lisa McNally, Public Health Team Leader at Bracknell Forest Council said,
“For every one person quitting in the region, there are two people quitting in Bracknell Forest – twice as many.”
What is Bracknell Forest doing differently?
As well as the support and general anti-smoking campaigns that have taken place over the past year, the council health team has also focused its attention on smoking cessation schemes for expectant mothers, highlighting the harmful effects smoking can have on a babies development.
At present, only 50% of female smokers quit when they become pregnant – a figure that the council health team believe is due to a general lack of understanding of just how harmful the effects of smoking can be on unborn babies.
Although there appears to be a general lack of understanding within this area, most women are aware of the negative public opinion towards women who smoke during pregnancy, meaning many of them will choose to smoke in secret. The dim view society takes in this area can also damage their confidence, preventing them from reaching out and asking for help.
The council health team are keen to emphasise that anybody seeking help in this area will not be judged and will receive as much help and support as they require.
If you or someone you know needs help to quit smoking during pregnancy, you can visit Smoke Free Life Berkshire for information.