Tasmania is paying pregnant women to quit smoking

By | July 5, 2015

Women know from an early age that they shouldn’t take drugs, smoke, or consume alcohol whilst being pregnant. Yet it seems that the women in Tasmania obviously don’t understand this. So instead, they’re being offered money (in the way of gift cards) to quit smoking. This is wrong.

It looks like Tasmania is the (pregnant) smoking capital of Australia, in which 22 percent of pregnant Tasmanian women were smoking. Comparing this to the national average of 12 percent, the numbers are phenomenal according to a study carried out between 2009 and 2012 by the National Health Authority. The numbers are even higher for pregnant women under 20, jumping to 35.7 percent!

The risks of smoking while pregnant are very well known. In case you’ve lived under a rock all your life some of the risks are asthma, weakened immune system, miscarriage, and a higher risk of SIDS and more likely to become smokers themselves later in life. In saying that, pregnant women aren’t just harming their unborn child they are also harming their own body in the process.

In an article on Vice, to help kick this habit Dr Mai Frandsen from the University of Tasmania is paying expecting mothers aged 16 and over to stop smoking. The women will have to report in each month and have their carbon monoxide levels measured. If they are successful then they receive a $50 gift card in which they can spend on items for their baby (and not groceries) to ensure that women are attending by choice and not necessity.

To put it in simpler terms, pregnant women in Tasmania will be financially rewarded for not harming their baby. I feel this is ridiculous. It is basically saying that having a healthy baby is not enough of an incentive already, since women continue to smoke whilst pregnant.

How smoking affects pregnancy

There is already a lot of things that pregnant women give up that they may enjoy like sushi, alcohol, soft cheese and they do this without payment, simply to help prevent any medical complications the substances can have on a fetus. I would assume that these women would like a voucher for giving up these things that could harm their unborn child.

It isn’t impossible to quit smoking, it may be difficult but not impossible. Most of the sacrifices that pregnant women make would be just as irritating as quitting smoking, yet think of the rewards regarding a healthier you, healthier unborn child, and a smoke-free environment for the tiny human growing inside.

Providing support for pregnant women to help become smoke-free via support groups, counselling or even subsidised aids to help quit smoking would be more of an incentive than simply handing out gift vouchers. Being more pro-active with education about the dangers of smoking whilst pregnant I can support.

How is being given a $50 voucher to spend going to change their attitude toward smoking. All I see it doing is making them think about being paid to quit smoking.

By smoking, you’re harming your unborn child. This should be a big enough incentive to quit smoking. If it isn’t, then what is?