OPINION: More help is needed to stub out the smoking habit

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Sheffield has among the highest rates in the country of pregnant women who smoke, it has been revealed.

A new report shows that only Liverpool has a worse rate across all the country’s cities.


Sheffield has second-worst national rates for new mums smoking

And it’s not that a lot of work isn’t already being done to help Sheffield’s expectant women kick the habit.

The report describes the excellent “woman-centred whole pathway approach to reducing prevalence and encourage wide stakeholder engagement.”

Er...come again?

All right, the report is aimed at government departments and health officials and talks in the gobbledegook language of boardrooms and management speak.

But part of the reason so many women still light up when they are carrying their baby is because the anti-smoking message doesn’t seem to be speaking to THEM.

And it’s also because by the time they do hear the warnings, it’s already too late.

Girls who are raised in houses where everyone smokes often go on to become lifelong smokers themselves.

They do it because it’s normal, it’s just what people do.

And once they start it is really hard to stop, even when they become pregnant - because everyone around them is still busy puffing away.

The reason quitting is so hard for many mums-to-be is because they’ve lived in clouds of family tobacco smoke for generation after generation.

They don’t call it kicking the habit for nothing.

Smokers are ‘junkies’ who can’t give up their regular pack of fags. It’s not really the done thing to shoot up while the family’s watching TV on a Saturday night. But it seems it’s perfectly OK to spark up - especially when everyone else is doing it too.

The right message clearly isn’t getting through to the right people.

It’s easy to preach about the evils of nicotine over your yoga mat at an expensive health club.

That’s the kind of place you’ll hear about ‘woman-centred whole pathway approaches’ and the like.

And it’s also the kind of place where nobody smokes - or ever has done.

Quitting is really easy if you never start.

If we really want to help Sheffield women - and men for that matter - lead healthier, smoke-free lives, we need better education in the right places.

We need to find a way to break that vicious circle in which the smoking habit is passed down from parents to the next generation of parents like a packet of chain-smoked cigarettes...