Open Access Open Badges Research article

Provision of smoking cessation support for pregnant women in England: results from an online survey of NHS stop smoking services for pregnant women

Samantha J Fahy1, Sue Cooper1, Tim Coleman1, Felix Naughton2 and Linda Bauld3*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Primary Care, U.K. Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, England

2 Behavioural Science Group, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England

3 Institute for Social Marketing and U.K. Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:107  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-107

Published: 4 March 2014



Smoking during pregnancy is a major public health concern and an NHS priority. In 2010, 26% of UK women smoked immediately before or during their pregnancy and 12% smoked continuously. Smoking cessation support is provided through free at the point of use Stop Smoking Services for Pregnant women (SSSP). However, to date, little is known of how these services provide support across England. The aim of this study was to describe the key elements of support provided through English SSSP.


SSSP managers were invited to participate in this survey by email. Data were then collected via an online questionnaire; one survey was completed for each SSSP. Up to four reminder emails were sent over a two month period.


86% (121 of 141) of services completed the survey. Responding services were, on average, larger than non-responding services in terms of the number of pregnant women setting quit dates and successfully quitting (p < 0.01). In line with the 2010 NICE guidelines, Stop Smoking in Pregnancy and following Childbirth, one in five SSSP identified pregnant smokers using carbon monoxide (CO) testing and refer via an opt-out pathway. All services offered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to pregnant women and 87% of services also offered dual therapy NRT, i.e. combination of a patch and short acting NRT product.. The 2010 NICE guidelines note that services should be flexible and client-centred. Consistent with this, SSSP offer pregnant women a range of support types (median 4) including couple/family, group (open or closed) or one-to-one. These are available in a number of locations (median 5), including in community venues, clinics and women’s homes.


English Stop Smoking Services offer behavioural support and pharmacotherapy to pregnant women motivated to quit smoking. Interventions provided are generally evidence-based and delivered in a variety of both social and health care settings.

Smoking cessation; Smoking in pregnancy; Service evaluation; Nicotine replacement therapy; Online survey