One in four South Tyneside mums quit smoking with controversial scheme

Almost a quarter of mums-to-be who signed up to a controversial stop smoking scheme managed to totally kick the habit.

The initiative, which offers up to £300 to pregnant South Tyneside women who manage to go smoke-free, has seen 185 women sign-up since it launched in 2017.

And of those, 46 had ditched cigarettes by the time they were ready to give birth.

Laura McDonald with Coun Tracey Dixon.Laura McDonald with Coun Tracey Dixon.
Laura McDonald with Coun Tracey Dixon.
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According to figures in South Tyneside Council’s Public Health Annual Report, which is due to be presented to the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Wednesday (May 22), the introduction of the incentive scheme coincided with a sustained fall in the rate of smoking in pregnancy in the borough over the last four years.

The paper includes the story of Hebburn mum-of-three Laura McDonald, who used support on offer in the borough to go totally nicotine-free, even off the patches, mints and mini inhalers she previously used.

She said: “I gave up smoking during each of my pregnancies but then started smoking again afterwards.

“However, I always smoked outside of the home as it’s simply wrong to let your kids breathe in the smoke.

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“This time, I am determined to stay off cigarettes completely.”

Under the Smoking in Pregnancy Incentive Scheme, expectant mothers can claim a £25 gift card just for attending an initial appointment and setting a quit date.

And they can be eligible for up to three further installments – one of £75 and two of £100 – which can be spent at stores such as Mothercare, Halfords and Boots if they can go 35 weeks without a cigarette.

Coun Tracey Dixon, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for Independence and Wellbeing, said stop smoking initiatives were driving down smoking rates in the borough.

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She added: “We know that children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from asthma and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.

“By stopping smoking before a baby is born, women reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby.

“The sooner women stop smoking, the better.

“But even if women stop in the last few weeks of your pregnancy this will benefit both mother-to-be and the baby.

“By raising awareness of the health issues associated with smoking, pregnant women are being encouraged to build good foundations for their own and their children’s health.”


Smoking in Pregnancy Incentive Scheme in numbers:

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185 mums-to-be set a quit date – 46 mums-to-be had quit smoking by time of delivery.

In the first cohort of the incentive scheme, 75 out of 119 quit at 4 weeks (63%) and 52 (44%) at 12 weeks.

In 2016/17, before the voucher scheme was introduced, only 24 out of 231 quit at 4 weeks (30%) and 13 at 12 weeks (16%).

The number of women smoking at the time of delivery fell from 20.8% in 2016/17, before the voucher scheme was introduced, to 13.1% at September 2018.


James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service