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A Manifesto for Smokefree Beginnings

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group has produced its fourth national report: “A Manifesto for Smokefree Beginnings”

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The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group has produced its fourth national report: “A Manifesto for Smokefree Beginnings”. In it, the Group reaffirms its position that pregnant women who struggle to quit smoking with traditional approaches should be offered access to vape products as an alternative.

In conjunction with the proposed generational ban on being able to purchase tobacco products, experts estimate the number of women smoking during pregnancy could be reduced by around 10,000 a year by 2033 and create a smokefree generation.

Anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health says: “Smoking during pregnancy is concentrated in younger parents who will be an early group to benefit from increasing the age of sale. Maternal smoking is a leading cause of poor birth outcomes including stillbirth, miscarriage and birth defects and increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Women who are smoking at their first midwifery appointment can find it difficult to quit due to higher levels of addiction than those who quit before or in early pregnancy.”

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group set out six high impact recommendations in its manifesto.

The manifesto was launched at an event in Parliament to celebrate the Challenge Group’s 10-year anniversary, hosted by the APPG on Smoking and Health and the APPG on Baby Loss. The event was also an opportunity to celebrate the efforts of maternity professionals supporting women to have smokefree pregnancies.

The high impact recommendations:

  1. Pass legislation to raise the age of sale for tobacco by one year, every year, to reduce smoking prevalence in the age cohort most likely to smoke during pregnancy and create a smokefree generation.
  2. Introduce a ‘polluter pays’ levy on tobacco manufacturers to raise funding for the measures needed to deliver a smokefree start for every child.
  3. Fully implement the national financial incentive scheme and commit to extending the scheme beyond 2024.
  4. Set out a new target for reducing rates of Smoking Status at Time of Delivery (SATOD) to 4% by 2030, putting England on track to deliver a smokefree start for every child before 2040.
  5. Ensure NHS tobacco dependence treatment services for pregnant women are fully embedded and sustained long-term.
  6. Commit to develop and fund models of care to prevent relapse to smoking postnatally.

Featuring at No.10 in the supporting recommendations, The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group says: “Ensure pregnant women struggling to quit smoking can access vape products as an alternative while addressing increases in youth vaping and vaping among never smokers.”

The Group warns: “Efforts to maximise the use of nicotine to support quitting among pregnant women have been undermined by widespread misconceptions among professionals and service users that nicotine is responsible for the health harms of smoking.”


The Group points out that vapes are being increasingly welcomed by stop smoking services to help pregnant smokers on their quit smoking journey.

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group explains: “[Vapes] appear to be just as safe as nicotine patches and more effective for smoking cessation during pregnancy. However, attempts to maximise the impact of vaping for smoking cessation have been hindered by misperceptions about nicotine, a lack of knowledge about the health impacts of vaping and widespread concerns about youth vaping. There is a need for dedicated training to equip maternity professionals to deliver evidence-based advice about NRT, nicotine and vaping.”

Professor Linda Bauld, Director of the SPECTRUM Research Consortium and Co-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group said: “Over the last decade, the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group has worked tirelessly to ensure that women get the support they need to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

“During this time, rates of smoking in pregnancy have fallen by around a third and we have seen clear commitments on maternal smoking from the NHS and Government. But there is more to do to ensure that every child has a smokefree start in life.”


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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