EXCL Labour condemn Government as scale of smoking in pregnancy revealed
Labour has called on the Government to reverse health spending cuts after it emerged one-in-five pregnant women in some parts of the country are smokers.
On average, some 10.5% of women in England smoke while expecting a baby, despite the damage it can do to the unborn child's health.
But official figures uncovered by Labour show that 18% of pregnant women in the Humber, Coast and Vale sustainability and transformation partnership area (STP) smoke - the highest level in the country.
In all, 18 STP areas have rates of smoking in pregnancy which exceed the national average.
Other areas with higher-than-average smoking rates include Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire on 16.4% each, Shropshire and Telford and Wreckin on 15.9%, Derbyshire on 15.2% and Cumbria and North East on 15%.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told PoliticsHome: "These shocking figures show the scale of inequality women across the country are facing. Tobacco is one of the biggest killers across England, responsible for thousands of premature deaths, especially in the most deprived areas.
“Public health budgets and smoking cessation services have been slashed, placing increased pressure on short staffed health visitors to discourage mothers from smoking in pregnancy.
“Living in poverty means you are more likely to die sooner or get sick quicker, making it more urgent than ever that ministers reverse these cuts in the upcoming NHS plan.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Smoking rates are at their lowest ever levels and among pregnant women have been in steady decline since 2010.
"We know this remains one of the most concerning issues we face in maternity care and we are determined to go further. That's why our new Tobacco Control Plan sets out challenging new ambitions to reduce smoking in pregnancy to 6% by 2022."