Almost a quarter of mums-to-be in Boston smoke when they are pregnant – with women being warned of the dangers to their unborn children.
Health bodies have teamed up to tackle the issue in a bid to get mums to kick the habit, with the level of smoking mums in Boston – 23 per cent – well above the Lincolnshire average of 14 per cent and national average of 12 per cent.
County council public health chief Phil Garner said the figures meant more than 500 unborn babies were at risk of health issues.
He said: “We have been working since April on this and since it’s Stoptober we wanted there to be a particular emphasis.”
He said Boston has higher smoking rates than elsewhere anyway, and believes it is made worse by the types of jobs in the area and the stresses of pregnancy including pressure from parents and family.
Stephanie Heathcote, of the Phoenix Stop Smoking Service, said smoking during pregnancy is like putting a clip on the umbilical cord – cutting off nutrients and oxygen to the baby and potentially leading to small babies and early, or even, still births.
In a bid to combat that midwives are giving advice to all pregnant mothers and referring them to Phoenix and routine anti-natal screenings.
Ms Heathcote said: “Roughly half the ladies that come through to our service will go on to quit smoking during the pregnancy. Sadly a lot of people relapse following the baby’s birth.”
Fire crews joined with health officials at the Pilgrim Hospital on Wednesday to highlight the issue and offer carbon monoxide tests and safety advice.