There is good evidence that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications, premature birth, babies born with a low birth-weight, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Statistics from the Infant Feeding Survey 2010 show that lower levels of smoking were seen in all four countries of the UK compared to 2005.

NCT published a review in March 2013 describing the effectiveness of interventions that aim to help women stop smoking during pregnancy or shortly afterwards using systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials.

The Government set a target of 11% of women smoking in pregnancy by 2015 in their reducing smoking policy 2013. Rates have fallen from 15.1% since they were first measured in 2006-07 to 12% in 2014.

Statistics on women's smoking status at time of delivery: England Quarter 4 - April 2013 to March 2014. Health & Social Care Information Centre. These latest statistics from HSCIC show 12% of women smoke during pregnancy which is the lowest on record. However, there is still wide variation across England. Pregnant women in the Durham, Darlington and Tees Area Team were most likely to smoke (20.6%), with London having the lowest rate (5.1%).

As part of the new Scottish Patient Safety Maternity Improvement Programme, all pregnant women are offered carbon monoxide monitoring early in their pregnancy to check on their level of exposure to cigarette smoke either as smokers themselves or from others.

In 2012, Tackling smoking in pregnancy in Scotland: a policy summit was held at the University of Edinburgh by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.

NICE Guidelines

In November 2013 NICE published Public Health Guidance 48 - Smoking cessation in secondary care. NICE wants to ensure that secondary care premises (including grounds and vehicles) remain smokefree, to help to promote non-smoking as the norm for people using these services.

In June 2010, NICE published public health guidance on quitting smoking in pregnancy and following childbirth. The guidance How to stop smoking in pregnancy and following childbirth guidance updates recommendations on smoking in NICE's clinical guideline on antenatal care.