Colchester MP asks government to consider giving free e-cigarettes to pregnant women struggling to stop smoking
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A campaigning Essex MP is calling on the Government to consider giving free e-cigarettes to pregnant women struggling to give up smoking.
Speaking in a backbench business debate about the tobacco control plan, Colchester MP Will Quince told the Commons there are still “massive issues” affecting all parts of the UK when it comes to smoking in pregnancy.
Mr Quince, who led a campaign about baby loss in Parliament, said more research needs to be carried out into vaping and e-cigarettes while highlighting the potential benefits of using the devices as an alternative to smoking tobacco.
He urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to discuss the possibility of providing free e-cigarettes to pregnant women struggling to kick the habit in next month’s budget.
Mr Quince told the debate: “We have massive issues when it comes to smoking in pregnancy and regional variation.
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“Women in routine and manual jobs are almost three times more likely to smoke during pregnancy than those in managerial and professional roles.
“Teenage mothers are six times more likely than those over 35 to smoke throughout their pregnancy.
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He added: “To be clear, this is absolutely not about criticising women or demonising women who smoke during pregnancy.
“Tobacco, as members have rightly already pointed out is highly addictive and it can be incredibly difficult to stop smoking.
“But in relation to still-birth and neo-natal death the Government has set some really ambitious targets, so to reduce by 20% by 2020 and in half by 2030.”
The Colchester MP went on to highlight smoking in pregnancy as the biggest modifiable risk factor contributing to stillbirths.
He said if every pregnancy was smoke-free tomorrow, there would be around 5,000 fewer miscarriages.
He added: “Whilst I appreciate that the jury is very much still out when it comes to (vaping and e-cigarettes), and of course quitting outright is always the aim, but these products should surely be better than smoking, especially for pregnant women.
“I very much hope that as part of the budget the Chancellor is looking at a way in which we could encourage tobacco manufacturers to provide these products for free to women who are struggling to give up smoking during pregnancy in particular.”