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 2020, HealthStats NSW reported that 41.7 per cent of NSW Aboriginal women smoked during pregnancy compared to 7.0 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.

Sustaining the Quit for new life program: three promising case studies from 2019-2020

The Quit for new life program was a smoking cessation program for women having an Aboriginal baby that finished in 2018. The program aimed to address the high rate of smoking during pregnancy and prevent relapse to smoking after birth.

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 the Quit for new life program that ended in 2018.

Quit for new life Snapshot Report

How the program was supported

  • Quit for new life modelsCommitted funding from the NSW Ministry of Health of $8.4M 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.
  • Full day training program offered to all LHDs, facilitated by the NSW Health smoking cessation trainer.
  • A voucher system for providing free nicotine replacement therapy (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 state-wide evaluation to provide valuable data on the impact of the program on smoking and quitting behaviour of Aboriginal women during pregnancy.

Services that offered 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 were also involved in the Quit for new life.

Current as at: Wednesday 8 March 2023
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health