Report finds decline in smoking during pregnancy

Monday 25 November 2013 17.55
The report suggests tobacco-control measures are working
The report suggests tobacco-control measures are working

Smoking rates among children and pregnant women have declined in the past decade, but children from disadvantaged areas are a particular risk of tobacco-related harm, according to a new report.

The all-island report, published by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland and the Tobacco Free Research Institute Ireland, suggests that tobacco-control measures are working.

It found that smoking during pregnancy has declined by a third over the past decade in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The report - A Tobacco Free Future - found that in the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland, mothers were three times more likely to smoke during pregnancy than in better-off areas.

Disadvantaged children across the island of Ireland are also more likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke.

Smoking rates among children have fallen in the past ten years.

A general pattern of low-intensity smoking was evident among schoolchildren, both in terms of frequency of smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked.

The report also found that children are trying their first cigarettes at a very young age.

Senior Police officer with the Institute of Public Health in Ireland Helen McAvoy said the declines in smoking are welcome but more remains to be done.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, she said: "In particular we are concerned for children who are growing up in families where people are less well off, for children who reported doing less well in school.

"These children are particularly vulnerable to smoking and the smoking rates in 15-17 year-old girls from the lower socio-economic group and pregnant teenagers were particularly striking and worrying.

"So there's sub-groups of vulnerable children that we need to increasingly focus on supporting them not to start smoking."