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NI Chest Heart & Stroke welcomes moves to support pregnant women to quit smoking

13 Apr 2023
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“Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS) was delighted to fund the NI part of the UK-wide research, in partnership with the Public Health Agency (PHA), which showed that financially supporting pregnant women to quit smoking works.”

Neil Johnston, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at the charity, was commenting following the announcement by Westminster Health Minister Neil O’Brien that pregnant women in England will be offered financial incentives to help them stop smoking. This will involve offering vouchers, alongside behavioural support, to all pregnant women who smoke by the end of next year.

“This is a very welcome move. NICHS has been involved with this research for several years and we are delighted that the research has led to this initiative.”

“We hope that all the local political parties will endorse this move and we will be asking them to write to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health to highlight their support to him so that we can start the processes required to bring this measure into force in Northern Ireland.”

“It is imperative that pregnant mums in Northern Ireland are not left behind.”

“The evidence from the research is clear. Supporting more women to have a smoke-free pregnancy will reduce the number of babies born underweight or underdeveloped, with health problems requiring neonatal and ongoing care. It will also reduce the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.”

“The focus of this policy is to help pregnant women to break their nicotine addiction – for their own sake and their baby’s future health. Most women who smoke quit when they find out they are pregnant. But that can be very difficult. If you have little money, poor support, a partner who smokes and maybe your own mother did in pregnancy, it’s not easy.”