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Health professionals in Canberra concerned about rates of youth smoking in pregnancy

Date posted: 31 August 2017

Health professionals have raised concern about the high rate of young pregnant smokers in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), as the sector has increased efforts to tackle this issue.

Forty-two per cent of expecting teenagers in Canberra reported tobacco use at their first antenatal visit in the six years to 2014, the ACT 2016 Chief Health Officer's report showed. This cohort was more than four times likely to smoke than the territory's general population, of which 10% reported smoking. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were six times more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to smoke while pregnant.

Now medical providers are teaming up with women's groups in a bid to encourage expecting young mothers to quit. Acknowledging the need to tackle this issue, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia's ACT branch has partnered with ACT Health for a two-year project, Quit for 2, which trains pharmacists to support pregnant customers to quit smoking.

To connect with women who may have little interaction with their local pharmacy, the Pharmacy Guild recently teamed up with local women's health providers, including YWCA, Capital Health Network and Women's Centre for Health Matters. However, the Pharmacy Guild's ACT Director, Margaret Beerworth, was concerned that 48% of Indigenous mothers under the age of 20 continued to smoke, saying further support was needed. 'There are a greater number of family members that smoke [among Indigenous populations] so there is a greater need for health campaigns supporting them to quit,' she said.

The territory's peak Aboriginal Health Service, Winnunga Nimmityjah, runs its own targeted support services urging smokers to quit. 'The amount of stress in our community means often women start to smoke at quite early ages. Some people have other serious issues and just aren't in the right space to quit,' Chief Executive, Julie Tongs said. 'You can't address the [smoking] issue without addressing all of the others.'

The Lung Foundation Australia have also launched a new initiative, Quit4October, which encourages smokers to give up cigarettes for one month, after consulting a GP or pharmacist.

Source: ABC


Last updated: 31 August 2017
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