Smoking, inequalities and early years

Smoking is a significant public health issue in Scotland and a leading cause of preventable ill health, premature death and disability. It accounts for almost one-in-four of all deaths.

There are clear links between smoking and inequalities:

  • Smoking rates are still highest in the most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland smoking, compared to 10% in the least deprived areas.
  • 29.3% of pregnant women in the most deprived areas are current smokers at their first antenatal appointment, compared to 4.5% in the least deprived areas.

A child born in a more socially deprived area of Scotland is more likely to grow up around smokers; be born into a family that smokes; and have a mother who smoked during her pregnancy. Children of smokers are more likely to start smoking themselves.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of babies having low birth weight, being born early and having ill health. Our work has explored the accuracy of self-reported smoking in pregnancy; the feasibility of using incentives for smoking cessation within the maternity setting; and the use of incentives to increase engagement with services and quit rates for pregnant smokers.

Earlier work explored the cost effectiveness of the different models of smoking cessation service provided in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.