Department of Health’s new Start4Life pack to help mums-to-be stop smoking

Smoking in pregnancy

Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of serious health problems, including lower birth weight, pre-term birth, problems with the placenta and even death of the baby. It is also one of the few risk factors that can be changed.

The Department of Health has published a report about women’s smoking status at time of delivery, with new figures for the first quarter of 2012/13. This provides a measure of the prevalence of smoking among pregnant women at Strategic Health Authority (SHA) and Primary Care Trust (PCT) levels.

The key facts from the report are that:

  • The percentage of mothers who were smokers at the time of delivery was 12.7% and this was lower than in the three previous quarters (time periods for data collection), when between 13.2% and 14.1% smoked
  • There were large geographical differences, varying from 19.6% in the North East SHA to 5.6% in London SHA. Amongst 147 Primary Care Trusts, smoking prevalence at delivery ranged from 27.6% in Blackpool PCT to 1.2% in Kensington & Chelsea PCT

The Department of Health has also produced a new Start4Life pregnancy pack for all midwives, healthcare professionals and local stop smoking advisers who work with pregnant women.

The pack contains:

  • A leaflet explaining the pack and its contents
  • Flashcards to help guide the conversation about smoking with pregnant women
  • ‘Everything you need to help pregnant women quit smoking’ – Smokefree leaflet for healthcare professionals explaining Ask, Act, Advise and the most commonly asked questions about smoking during pregnancy
  • ‘Baby on the way, quit today’ – Smokefree leaflet for mums-to-be, explaining the risks of smoking to their unborn child and answering the most commonly asked questions
  • ‘Being a parent starts right now’ – Smokefree leaflet for partners
  • ‘Off to the best start’ – Start4Life leaflet about breastfeeding
  • ‘Introducing solid foods’ – Start4Life leaflet about weaning
  • Sticker sheet with details about the Information Service for Parents for use on handheld pregnancy notes

Up to ten Copies of the pack are available for order via the Department of Health orderline at For larger quantities, you can email your request to

The NHS Smokefree website has a section on smoking in pregnancy, which includes videos of women talking about giving up smoking during pregnancy with NHS support. You can also sign up there to take part in a study by researchers at University College London, who are testing some new websites designed to help people stop smoking.

Have a healthy, happy weekend!


Department of Health Statistics on women’s smoking status at time of delivery: England, Quarter 1, 2012/13. August 30, 2012.

Department of Health Campaign Resource Centre New Start4Life pregnancy pack for midwives and healthcare professionals August 31, 2012.

Smokefree Smoking and Pregnancy

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Sarah Chapman

My name is Sarah Chapman. I have worked on systematic reviews and other types of research in many areas of health for the past 17 years, for the Cochrane Collaboration and for several UK higher education institutions including the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Nursing Institute. I also have a background in nursing and in the study of the History of Medicine.

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