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
2019 HealthStats NSW reported that 43.2 per cent of NSW Aboriginal women smoked during pregnancy compared to 7.1 per cent 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 smoking cessation program for women having an Aboriginal baby. The program, which finished on 30 June 2018, aimed to address the high rate of smoking during pregnancy and prevent relapse to smoking after birth. The program was a joint initiative of the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW Kids and Families. It provided 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.
A four-minute long video and complementary short report made in 2019-2020 share how three different services worked to sustain support to reduce the harms of smoking on mothers and babies. The video and report may help other services consider how to sustain best practice cessation support that were introduced under Quit for new life.
Some Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services were also involved in the Quit for new life.
For more information on the Quit for new life program, download a copy of the Quit for new life handbook.