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Smoking and pregnancy

If people smoke while pregnant they can be at greater risk of:

  • ectopic pregnancy (the baby grows outside the womb)

  • miscarriage

  • early labour

  • still-born babies

  • reduced breast milk production.

The unborn baby can experience:

  • low oxygen supply

  • problems with growth and development

  • increased risk of cleft lip and palate

  • increased heart rate and disruption of breathing.

Once born, the baby can have an increased risk of:

  • low birth weight

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • decreased lung function

  • asthma

  • immune system problems.

Passive smoking

Passive smoking is when a non-smoker breathes in the smoke from a person smoking nearby. People who experience passive smoking on a regular basis are at increased risk of developing lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses.

Is there a safe level of smoking?

There is no safe level of tobacco smoking. People who choose to smoke will always be damaging their health. They may also be risking the health of those people around them through passive smoking.

Benefits of quitting smoking

When people quit smoking they may improve their life expectancy and reduce their chances of developing respiratory problems, lung cancer and heart disease. Other benefits can include:

  • improved sense of taste

  • improved sense of smell

  • breathing becomes easier and therefore exercise becomes easier.

How hard is it to quit smoking?

Because nicotine is highly addictive, it can be difficult for anyone to quit smoking. Sometimes people quit for a short period of time, but then resume smoking. It may take several attempts before a person is able to quit for good.

Barriers to quitting smoking may be:

  • cravings (the urge to smoke)

  • withdrawal (mental and physical symptoms)

  • increased hunger and weight gain

  • family relationships (feeling disconnected and not part of the group)

  • lack of support.

When a person is trying to quit smoking, there are certain triggers which may make this more difficult:

  • having a drink (alcohol or coffee)

  • driving a car

  • finishing a meal

  • on waking up

  • having other people smoking nearby

  • feeling sad, stressed, bored or relaxed

  • socialising with friends and family.

These events may make it easier to quit smoking:

  • pregnancy (including a smoker’s partner being pregnant)

  • a serious health problem (for example, a heart attack)

  • the banning of smoking in public places, such as in pubs and at work

  • an increase in the price of cigarettes.

Healthy, Deadly and Strong

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