Bankrupt Pregnancy Smoking Plan

Courtesy of that august organ, ISH Daily News, for 10 January 2024, there is both good and bad news about Wirral, part of the city of Liverpool in northwest England.

First, the good news: ‘Fewer pregnant women in Wirral were smokers when they give birth, new figures show.’ This means that maternal smoking rates fell from 9.1 per cent to 7.5 per cent over a three-month period compared with the previous year.

Now for the bad news: ‘The national target of 6 per cent of pregnant women smoking was missed yet again…the government is not on track to hit it until around 2032.’

Oh dear. It seems it’s the government’s fault that more than 6 per cent of pregnant women are smoking in Wirral and elsewhere. Furthermore, ISH informs us, ‘A new national financial incentive for pregnant smokers and their partners are [sic] due to be rolled out [sic] this year should accelerate progress.’

(For new readers of this blog, ISH is the acronym of Inaction on Smoking and Health, previously erroneously known as ASH, Action on Smoking and Health.)

The above-mentioned news item encapsulates, yet again, everything that’s wrong with the UK government’s approach to the smoking problem, and not just in pregnant women. Even if the prevalence of smoking in pregnancy did come down to ‘only’ 6 per cent, everything would be all right then? The rate of smoking in pregnancy should be zero, as it should be in the whole population. But how does the government plan to reduce the rate in pregnant women? By a ‘financial incentive scheme’, that is, by attempting to bribe people not to smoke!

Isn’t this absurd, or isn’t it? This bankrupt strategy has been tried before, with a predictably disappointing result.

If they had a different attitude, smokers could, in a sense, bribe themselves not to smoke by avoiding wasting money on cigarettes. This is because, as I am informed by Mr Google, that in the UK ‘a pack of 20 [cigarettes] currently stands at an eye-watering £15.67.’

That means, in round figures, pack-a-day smokers could reward themselves £100 a week, £436 per month, or £5,720 per year by not smoking, and pro-rata for those who smoke more or fewer cigs each day.

This is because, if my readers will forgive me for reminding them, smoking is an abnormal activity consisting of inhaling poisonous tobacco fumes repeatedly every day. And this is because smoking is not merely a bad habit, but because it’s drug (nicotine) addiction.

Therefore, what the government needs to do, as I am tired of repeating, is to enact legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of tobacco products.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Picture credit: Mark Konig on Unsplash

Gabriel Symonds

Dr Gabriel Symonds is a British medical doctor living in Japan who has developed a unique interactive stop smoking method. It involves no nicotine, drugs, hypnosis, or gimmicks but consists in helping smokers to demonstrate to themselves why they really smoke and why it seems so hard to stop doing it. Then most people find they can quit straightaway and without a struggle. He has used this approach successfully with hundreds of smokers; it works equally well for vapers. Dr Symonds also writes about transgenderism and other controversial medical matters. See

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