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