The Liverpool City Region Child
Poverty and Life Chances Commission today reveals that it has bucked a national
trend by helping hundreds of pregnant mothers quit smoking during pregnancy,
thereby improving their immediate financial circumstances and boosting their
babies’ longer term health prospects.
The Commission trialled a ‘Quit
Buddy and Stress Relief’ project in Halton and Knowsley between January 2015
and August 2016. An evaluation of the trial shows that the proportion of
pregnant women setting a 4-week quit date was higher in both boroughs (42.9%)
than the previous year (40.5%) – nationally there was a year-on-year decline in
the numbers of pregnant women setting 4-week quit dates. Moreover, of the 271
who set a 4-week quit date, it was pregnant women with the lowest incomes who
were most likely to benefit from the trial.
The project has simultaneously
helped both boroughs achieve a significant year-on-year decline in smoking
prevalence at the time of babies’ delivery; by 2.2% in Halton and 4% in
Knowsley. Both boroughs have exceeded the average reduction of 1.7% across
Cheshire and Merseyside.
The Commission is now planning to
extend the trial across the remainder the Liverpool City Region, so that the
gains can be delivered to more of the Region’s most disadvantaged families.
Commenting on today’s
breakthrough, the Commission’s Chair, Frank Field MP said: ‘Here is an
intervention which has the potential to revolutionise the financial circumstances
and health prospects of our poorest families. A most rewarding aspect of the
feedback we have received on the intervention has been from new mums feeling so
pleased about being able to use the money they would have spent on cigarettes,
to buy decent food and clothes instead for their babies.’