Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group

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View Challenge Group resources for health professionals working to reduce smoking in pregnancy

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Join the Smokefree Pregnancy Information Network to receive timely information, practical resources, training materials and examples of good practice

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NEW WEBINAR Love my Lungs: supporting NICUs to help parents quit smoking

Who we are

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group is a coalition of organisations committed to reducing rates of smoking in pregnancy. The Group was established in 2012 to produce recommendations on how the smoking in pregnancy ambition contained in the Government’s tobacco strategy can be realised.

The Group is a partnership between the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists  and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the voluntary sector and academia. It presented its first report and recommendations in June 2013 and continues to meet annually to review progress.

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group is jointly chaired by Dr. Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands, and Professor Linda Bauld of the SPECTRUM Research Consortium and the University of Edinburgh.

The case for action

When a woman smokes during pregnancy or when she is exposed to secondhand smoke, oxygen to the baby is restricted making the babies heart work faster and exposing the baby to harmful toxins. As a result, exposure to smoke in pregnancy is responsible for an increased rate of stillbirths, miscarriages and birth defects. The table below highlights the impact of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in pregnancy:

 Maternal SmokingSecondhand smoke exposure
Low birthweight2 times more likelyAverage 30-40g lighter
Heart Defects25% more likelyIncreased risk
Stillbirth47% more likelyPossible increase
Preterm birth27% more likelyPossible increase
Miscarriage32% more likelyIncreased risk
Sudden Infant Death3 times more likely45% more likely
Sources: Zhao L et al. Parental smoking and the risk of congenital heart defects in offspring: An updated meta-analysis of observational studies. 2020; RCP. Hiding in plain sight: treating tobacco dependency in the NHS. 2018; Pineless BL et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of miscarriage and maternal exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy. 2014; RCP & RCPCH. Passive Smoking and Children. 2010

Latest report - Getting back on track: Delivering a smokefree start for every child

This report from ASH and the Challenge Group sets out the action needed to turn the Government’s ambitions on smoking in pregnancy and a smokefree society into a reality. The full report can be downloaded here (pdf).

The report was launched on the 10th February 2021, at a joint meeting of the APPG on Smoking and Health and the APPG on Baby Loss. The event was attended by the Public Health Minister Jo Churchill, who reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to tackling smoking in pregnancy. You can view a recording of the event here.