Smoking rates in Medway have dropped by more than a quarter in the last five years, according to new figures published by the Office for National Statistics.
The Annual Population Survey suggests that the number of people smoking in Medway has reduced from 25.5 per cent in 2012 to 17.6 per cent in 2018.
Medway Council’s Stop Smoking Service works with smokers throughout the year to help them stub out the habit. They work in numerous locations across Medway, offering free support and advice to smokers wanting to quit. During 2017/2018 1,338 smokers successfully quit.
The number of women smoking during pregnancy is also falling - the number of women smoking at the time of delivery in April 2017 was 19 per cent, but in March 2018 it had dropped to 15.9 per cent.
The council also offers a range of information and support for expectant mothers including free nicotine replacement therapy and tailored one-to-one support. Help is available six days a week at various locations across Medway through community based clinics, pharmacies, GP surgeries and home visits. Partners and other family members are also welcome to attend the support sessions. The council understands the challenges women face when trying to quit smoking and the service is tailored to meet individual women’s needs.
Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals, as well as carbon monoxide, which can restrict the baby’s oxygen supply. Babies born to women who smoke are more likely to be underweight and suffer a range of health problems. These include respiratory issues, ear, nose and throat disorders and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment..
Mums-to-be who have used the council’s Stop Smoking Service said that although they know smoking is harmful, they didn’t know the effects on their unborn child. Medway Council’s trained advisors are on hand to explain all of the questions they may have. Stopping smoking has a number of health benefits including reduced stress levels and reduced risks of health problems.
Last year there were approximately 3,400 pregnant women in Medway. Of these, around 650 were still smoking when they gave birth. This is known as smoking at the time of delivery.
Following a consultation with pregnant smokers, Medway Council is launching a new initiative for mums-to-be. Expectant mothers can attend engaging and interactive support sessions covering a variety of topics. These include mindfulness, debt advice and exercising in pregnancy. These classes give pregnant women the opportunity to talk to build new friendships with other pregnant women as well as receive expert advice from professionals.
'We are committed to helping pregnant women give up smoking'
Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder covering Public Health, said: “We are committed to helping pregnant women give up smoking. Our Stop Smoking Service aims to provide a relaxed environment where expectant mothers feel comfortable discussing their smoking habits and can ask any questions they may have about quitting. We will continue to offer support to all residents who wish to give up smoking. I would encourage anyone who wants to stub out the habit to contact our Stop Smoking Service or visit the Smokefree Advice Centre in Railway Street, Chatham.”
'Stopping smoking is one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their baby’s health'
Angela Baker, Deputy Director for Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England South East said: “Stopping smoking is one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their baby’s health through pregnancy and beyond.
“Everyone wants to do the best for their child but pregnancy is often a challenging time for mums. So we are pleased to see schemes like this in Medway helping parents give their children the best start in life.
“The numbers of women smoking during pregnancy has been falling in recent years and are now at their lowest ever. However, the numbers still smoking when pregnant remains a concern.”