07/03/2012 08:08 GMT | Updated 07/05/2012 06:12 BST

Smoking Ban Leads To Drop In Premature Births, Suggests Study

The smoking ban has led to a drop in the number of babies born prematurely or with low birth weight, new statistics suggest.

Researchers analysed smoking and birth rates for all expectant women in Scotland before and after the country introduced a ban on smoking in public places in 2006.

They found that since the ban, there has been a 10% drop in the premature birth rate.

The research team, led by Professor Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow's Institute of Health and Wellbeing, looked at data for more than 700,000 women spanning a period of about 14 years.

They found that following the introduction of the smoking ban, the number of pregnant women who smoked dropped from 25.4% to 18.8%. There was also a significant dip in the number of babies born prematurely or with low birth weight.

The reduction in premature births was also found in non-smokers, suggesting a link between passive smoke exposure and foetal development.

Dr Pell said, as reported by the Press Association: "These findings add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation and support the adoption of such legislation in other countries which have yet to implement smoking bans.

"These reductions occurred both in mothers who smoked and those who had never smoked. While survival rates for preterm deliveries have improved over the years, infants are still at risk of developing long-term health problems so any intervention that can reduce the risk of preterm delivery has the potential to produce important public health benefits."

Amanda Sandford, Research Manager for Action on Smoking And Health (ASH) told HuffPost Lifestyle: "This study shows how smoke-free laws continue to exert a beneficial impact for many years after implementation.  We already know that going smoke-free reduces the incidence of heart attacks in the population and it is very encouraging to see that the Scottish law has also led to improvements in pregnancy outcomes. 


"However, despite the smoke-free law, thousands of children in Britain are still exposed to tobacco smoke on a regular basis. More needs to be done to educate people about the need to protect children from second-hand smoke exposure, particularly in the home and in cars."  

A Scottish Government spokesman told the BBC: "We are continuing to build upon the achievements made to protect future generations from the devastating effects of smoking such as bans on cigarette vending machines and the displays in shops.

"We are committed to ensuring a new comprehensive robust tobacco control strategy for Scotland is developed this year. This strategy will focus on prevention and cessation and include ambitious targets for reducing smoking across Scotland."

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