Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group have published a new document that supports pregnant women using e-cigarettes. The lead author is John Waldron, a Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer for ASH. He was supported by Director of Policy Hazel Cheeseman and Policy and Research Assistant Efe Mamuzo.
ASH is a public health charity that was established in January 1971 by the Royal College of Physicians and works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco. It says: “We do not attack smokers or condemn smoking.”(1)
The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group(2) is a partnership between the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, committed to reducing rates of smoking in pregnancy. It produces recommendations on how the smoking during pregnancy can be effectively reduced.
The report(3) highlights the stark problem they are trying to address: “Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy is responsible for an increased rate of stillbirths, miscarriages and birth defects.”
The authors tell how the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists remained concerned about, “the impact that smoking during pregnancy and beyond has on the health of mothers, children, and families. This issue disproportionately impacts the poorest and most vulnerable families in our society and must be tackled to break the cycle of inequality afflicting so many communities.”
What does the report say about vaping during pregnancy?
“E-cigarettes are currently the most popular aid to quitting smoking in England(4). Evidence shows that e-cigarettes are considerably less harmful than smoking, though not completely risk-free(5)(6). According to the findings of a recent Cochrane review, nicotine- containing e-cigarettes are approximately 70% more effective in supporting smokers to quit successfully than NRT.”
The report agrees that because of the evidence from adult smokers it is reasonable to believe that vaping is “significantly less harmful to a pregnant woman and her baby than continuing to smoke.”
The Bath and North East Somerset Health in Pregnancy Service has already conducted a project where ecigs were given out free to pregnant women and they noted an increase in women being able to give up tobacco.
ASH conclude that service providers need further training, quit services should receive additional funding, and pregnant women should be supported to vape “if that is their preferred way to quit.”
- Action on Smoking and Health – https://ash.org.uk/home/
- Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group – https://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/smoking-in-pregnancy-challenge-group/
- Getting Back On Track – https://ash.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GettingBackOnTrack2021-v1.pdf
- Smoking in England – http://www.smokinginengland.info/latest-statistics/
- E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products: evidence review – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-and-heated-tobacco-products-evidence-review
- Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction – https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction