Scotland has seen a 10 percent drop in premature births since a ban on public smoking came into power, in 2006. Plos Medicine, which researched smoking rates among pregnant women before and after the ban started, point out that this is only one of the benefits of the smoking ban.
Of course, it's no news that smoking is bad for a fetus, and that maternal smoking can cause all kinds of terrible side effects for that baby, even later in life. What is news is that this smoking ban really appears to work. It's not just that fewer mothers have to be exposed to second-hand smoke now that smoking is prohibited in restaurants, offices, and other public places.
Before the ban came into effect, 25 percent of Scottish moms-to-be smoked cigarettes. Now that has gone down to 19 percent, which is a significant improvement even if there is still a long way to go. The drop in premature births, as well as a reduction in the amount of babies born with a low birth weight, coincided with the smoking ban.
One interesting detail is that the lower chance of premature births applied to both mothers who smoked during their pregnancy, and those who did not. This means that smoking really is a public health hazard, and that by not smoking around others, we positively impact the lives of other people.
A spokesman for the Scottish government commented on the study, and declared: "We are continuing to build upon the achievements made to protect future generations from the devastating effects of smoking such as bans on cigarette vending machines and the displays in shops."
He added: "We are committed to ensuring a new comprehensive robust tobacco control strategy for Scotland is developed this year. This strategy will focus on prevention and cessation and include ambitious targets for reducing smoking across Scotland."
Quitting smoking before trying to get pregnant? Click the link for more information.