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Smoking cessation encouraged for pregnant women

14 March 2008 Media Statement

Smoking cessation encouraged for all pregnant women

All health professionals play a role in getting people to stop smoking and should be encouraging pregnant women to cease their habit, Associate Minister of Health Damien O’Connor said today.

The Minister was responding to survey results released by the Auckland Tobacco Control Research Centre at The University of Auckland today about the number of midwives and GPs suggesting women abstain from smoking during pregnancy.

Mr O’Connor said since the survey had been conducted, the government had revised the New Zealand Smoking Cessation Guidelines and increased access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

“The guidelines provide updated guidance for health care workers in their contact with people who smoke, including a section on smoking cessation interventions for pregnant women and breastfeeding women.

“Cessation efforts should be encouraged in all pregnant women from as early in the pregnancy as possible. There are large benefits for the health of both the mothers and their babies in doing so,” said Mr O’Connor.

“This Labour-led government recognises that smoking cessation advice and support for smokers is an essential part of providing high quality health care.

“Earlier this year I announced that all health professionals with prescribing rights, including GPs and midwives, will be able to distribute Quit Cards to their patients as part of moves to increase access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). Non-prescribers are also able to distribute Quit Cards once they have completed a training course.

“Evidence shows that using NRT during a quit attempt doubles the chances of quitting long-term. For the price of a pack of cigarettes, smokers will be able to obtain an eight week supply of nicotine patches or gum.

“Health care workers are highly trusted in the community and are perfectly placed to ask patients about their smoking status and to recommend that smokers stop, especially pregnant women. We encourage all health care workers to adopt this approach,” said Mr O’Connor.

ENDS

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