Smoking in Pregnancy

In 2016/17, (7,809) pregnant women in Scotland were recorded as being current smokers at booking (15% of all those at booking). The proportion of women reporting being current smokers at booking has declined from 29% in 1997/98.

In 2016/17, a higher percentage of women in Scotland were recorded as smoking during pregnancy in younger age groups. The high percentage among the under 20s (33%) is particularly notable. This may be partly due to teenage pregnancies being more common in disadvantaged areas where smoking rates are highest.

SIMD is the Scottish Government’s official measure of area based multiple deprivation. In 2016/17, a higher percentage of women were recorded as smoking during pregnancy in more deprived areas: 27% in the most deprived SIMD quintile compared with 3% in the least deprived quintile.

Stopping smoking in pregnancy:

  • reduces the risk of miscarriage or the baby being stillborn;
  • reduces the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), previously known as cot death;
  • babies are more likely to be born a healthy weight and full-term (at around 40 weeks) – babies born too early and underweight are more likely to have feeding and breathing problems;
  • babies are less likely to be born with health problems like asthma or a cleft lip and/or palate;
  • mum will look better, smell better and feel better;
  • mum lowers her risk of heart disease and cancer; and
  • saves money – just a month of not smoking could save around £200.


The Quit Your Way team have been working in partnership with maternity staff for a number of years now to ensure a robust referral process for pregnant women who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Nicotine replacement therapy is safe to use in pregnancy and can be provided free of charge in conjunction with support from the Quit Your Way Officer.

Babies should not be exposed to second-hand smoke as this can cause harmful effects. Chemicals in second-hand smoke can linger for five hours. Anyone who is caring for a baby should smoke outside with the door closed.

Pregnant women may choose to use an e cigarette, which Quit Your Way cannot provide but will support the use of, as this is safer than continued smoking.

At initial booking appointment, every pregnant woman is asked by her midwife to take a carbon monoxide breath test. If the reading is 4 or over an automatic referral is sent to the Quit Your Way Team, who will endeavour to make contact to discuss the correct support for cessation. Although all women with a co reading of 4 or above are automatically referred to the Quit Your Way Team for smoking cessation advice or advice on second hand smoke. These women can be re-referred if they have not engaged with the service following initial referral.

To contact the Quit Your Way Team please call 0800 783 9132 or email: QYWAyrshire@aapct.scot.nhs.uk

For clinical staff email – Clinical_HealthPromotionQYWAyrshireTeam@aapct.scot.nhs.uk

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