Shocking statistics show pregnant Leeds smokers are failing to kick the habit

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More than half of all pregnant women in Leeds who pledged to stop smoking lost touch with stop smoking services or continued the habit last year.

According to new data released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, of the 144 pregnant women who set a stop smoking date between April 2014 and March this year 74 failed to quit or lost contact with the service.

Such figures have sparked concern, as smoking during pregnancy can restrict the essential oxygen supply to unborn babies and increases the risk of health problems and stillbirth.

The likes of anti-smoking charity ASH are calling for further investment in “vital” stop smoking services nationally after the number of people accessing such services dropped by 23 per cent in the last year.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at ASH, said: “Local authorities are currently facing really tough spending decisions however investing in services that will help people to quit smoking not only saves lives but reduces demand for services.”

Regionally 666 of the 2,542 Yorkshire women who set a stop smoking date failed to stop smoking, while 580 failed to stay in touch with the service or their results were lost.

Leeds City Council, which funds stop smoking services alongside local NHS organisations, was hit with a £3million in-year public health budget cut last month but has pledged to continue to support smoking cessation.

Dr Ian Cameron, the council’s director of public health, said: “Leeds and Yorkshire have made real progress with smoking cessation in recent years, but we know it is important to do more.”

Corinne Harvey, from Public Health England in Yorkshire, said tackling smoking in pregnant women is a “priority” for itself, councils and the NHS.

She said: “The numbers of women smoking in pregnancy are at the lowest levels ever but further action is needed.”