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More pregnant smokers in Barnsley than elsewhere

By Lynsey Bradford, Town Reporter Monday 6th January 2014

Barnsley has ten per cent more pregnant smokers than the rest of the country.


Up to 21.9 per cent of pregnant women in Barnsley smoke, and although Barnsley's rates for women smoking at the time they gave birth had fallen from 26.4 per cent in 2006/07, the rate of 21.9 per cent was still higher than regional and national rates of 16.5 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively.


Members of the Reducing Health Inequalities group felt it represented a significant health risk to infants and was an area where 'real improvement' could be made.


Coun Jeff Ennis, who is a member of the group, said he thought there was still a certain amount of ignorance surrounding smoking during pregnancy.


"We've got to get the educational message across. It's a common fact that if women smoke throughout their pregnancy there is a chance their baby can be born underweight or be born early, and the bigger the baby is at birth, the more chance it has of being healthier later in life.


"We've just got to keep enforcing that message and give whatever help and support we can before the baby is born.


"We need better role models and the women who are stopping smoking need to be coming forward and telling the other women."


A lot of work has taken place over the last four years to develop services at the hospital which have helped women stop smoking.


It is run alongside others such as the Fit Mums programme and the Stop Smoking Services, which have had some success.


The percentage of adults smoking in Barnsley is 25.6 per cent, compared to 20 per cent in England and 22.2 per cent in Yorkshire and Coun Ennis was also concerned that electronic cigarettes may encourage young children to take up smoking.


"Some wards are better than others, so there's a need to get best practice across the whole of the borough.


"E-cigs are not due to be regulated by the government until 2016, and with the number of stalls in the town centre, I'm concerned that youngsters might be encouraged to try them and then move onto real cigarettes."