ONE in eight pregnant women in Barnsley were smokers at the time they gave birth, new figures have revealed.

NHS England figures show that a total of 393 of the 2,929 mothers - 13.4 per cent - were smokers at the time of delivery in the last year.

The figure was well above the national ambition of six per cent or less.

The figures also show just eight of the 106 sub-integrated care boards that submitted smoking rates met the target, most of which were in London.

It comes as the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group forecast the government’s target to reduce rates of maternal smoking to six per cent by 2022 will only be met in 2032.

Professor Linda Bauld, co-chair of the group, said helping more mums-to-be quit smoking spares dozens of families from losing their baby to stillbirth or miscarriage, as well as easing pressure on vital NHS services.

Nationally, 8.8 per cent of pregnant women were smoking at time of delivery in 2022/23 - a slight fall from 9.1 per cent the year before.

Dr Clea Harmer, co-chair of the group and chief executive of the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity, said: “We are deeply concerned that the government has missed their target of six per cent or fewer pregnant women smoking by 2022 and isn’t on track to achieve it until the 2030s.

“The measures announced in April are an important step in the right direction, but they follow years of inaction and delay from successive governments.”

A joint partnership between Barnsley Council and Barnsley Hospital has been trying to stop pregnant women smoking - with the most recent statistics showing the service is somewhat successful.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, the support offered by Barnsley Hospital’s maternity stop smoking service helped 66 per cent of pregnant women who set a quit date to successfully stop smoking.

This places Barnsley above the national - 46 per cent - and regional, 57 per cent, averages.

A Department of Health and Social Care said it is committed to reducing smoking rates, particularly among pregnant women.

A spokesperson added the department has a new financial incentive scheme, in the form of vouchers, which will be offered to all pregnant women who smoke by the end of 2024.

“Women who receive incentives are more than twice as likely to quit as those who do not and schemes like this help women to engage with stop smoking support and remain smoke-free throughout their pregnancy.”

They added a smokefree treatment pathway will be introduced for pregnant women by March 2024 where women who smoke will be referred for specialist support.

Similar schemes have been taking place in Barnsley.

Barnsley Hospital’s maternity stop smoking service offer support, advice and nicotine replacement therapy for free to help pregnant women and their families who want to quit smoking.

Expecting mums could also receive up to £260 in Barnsley gift cards through the scheme as further incentives.