A statewide approach to helping Aboriginal pregnant women give smokes the flick

Smoking during pregnancy contributes to an increased risk of a broad range of obstetric and infant complications, including spontaneous abortion, pregnancy and labour complications, stillbirth, low birth weight (small and sickly baby) and sudden infant death syndrome. In addition to these risks from maternal smoking, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is also a risk during pregnancy and harms both the mother and the developing baby. The rate of smoking during pregnancy is high among women who identify as having an Aboriginal baby. In 2015 HealthStats NSW reported that 45% of NSW Aboriginal women smoked during pregnancy compared to only 7.4% of non-Aboriginal women.

The NSW Government is committed to closing the gap in pregnancy smoking rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women in order to give Aboriginal children the best start in life.

Quit for new life is a best practice smoking cessation program for women having an Aboriginal baby that aims to address the high rate of smoking during pregnancy and prevent relapse to smoking after birth. The program is a joint initiative of the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW Kids and Families. The program It provides culturally appropriate smoking cessation support to Aboriginal pregnant women and their household members who smoke, including advice, behavioural strategies, referral to Quitline, up to 12 weeks free nicotine replacement therapy, and extended follow-up support.

How the program is supported

  • Committed funding from the NSW Ministry of Health of $8.4 M over five years for the planning, promotion, implementation and evaluation of the Quit for new life program across NSW.
  • Phased roll out through Local Health Districts (LHDs), commencing January 2013 with all 14 LHDs on board by February  2015. The program will end in 2017/18.
  • Full day training program offered to all LHDs, facilitated by the NSW Health smoking cessation trainer.
  • A voucher system for providing free NRT to Aboriginal women and their household members who smoke, redeemable through community pharmacies across NSW.
  • A strong focus on practice change and capacity building by embedding best practice smoking cessation for Aboriginal pregnant and postnatal women into routine care delivery.
  • Regular monitoring of key indicators and reporting by LHDs.
  • Comprehensive statewide evaluation to provide valuable data on the impact of the program on smoking and quitting behaviour of Aboriginal women during pregnancy.

Services that offer Quit for new life

  • All Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Services (AMIHS) across NSW that provide antenatal care for women having an Aboriginal baby;
  • Some mainstream hospital based antenatal clinics;
  • A range of postnatal/child and family health services.

Some Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are also involved in Quit for new life.

To find out if a service in your area offers Quit for new life contact the  Quit for new life Program Coordinator in your Local Health District.

For more information on the Quit for new life program, download a copy of the Quit for new life handbook or contact the statewide coordinator Ms Rhonda Matthews via email at rhonda.matthews@doh.health.nsw.gov.au​​​​​​​​​​​

Page Updated: Monday 30 January 2017