Don’t get me wrong, if you want to smoke then you should do. I did, for many years and I enjoyed it. It went with the wannabe rock star image I built for myself in my late teens and handily also fitted in with the hospitality sector too (a bigger group of smokers I never met). But nobody these days is under any illusions about the effect is has on people’s health. There will be talk of educating people of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy but that can’t be an excuse these days, can it?. Poor education can be to blame for all manner of things but not, I feel, smoking while pregnant. In fact, I don’t think during my time at school anybody ever told me that during any lesson ever. But I knew, because we all know. It is everywhere and has been for years. You can hardly smoke anywhere in Britain now and even if you do you get some wanker making comments about how you’re killing yourself. Educated or not, surely everyone accepts that it’s your choice, but smoking is bad for your health?
But let’s say for the sake of argument that you didn’t know this. Having a baby is an expensive exercise and the money starts going long before the baby arrives. In other social problems, obesity and alcoholism for example there is a reasonably clear link between cost and class. These things can be bought for exceptionally low prices (indeed that has been much effort in recent years to stop offers on alcohol so as to combat the problem) but there is no such similarity in smoking. As far as I know cigarettes are expensive, some are cheaper than others but there are none that can be bought for say £3 a pack. Although now that I think of it perhaps people buy them illegally, certainly that happened a lot where I grew up. But still, the effort and expense to even go and get fags seems to counter the idea that it would be people on low income who would be the highest users.
Additionally, there are the many points during the process of smoking that one has to overcome to complete it. One must go and buy them, open them, find a lighter, find somewhere they are able to smoke, then light it, then smoke it. Surely at each one of these points there is a voice in the head that says ‘I’m pregnant’? Even if the pregnancy was a mistake, that’s not an excuse, is it? By smoking while pregnant one inflicts a choice on the baby that has a potentially serious adverse effect on their entire future.
I am sure there are some out there who will claim that it’s just people being lazy and selfish, but I don’t know about that either it seems like the kind of uninformed headline you might see in the Daily Mail. Quitting smoking is difficult, but surely there isn’t a better motivator than having a baby?
I’m not writing this with the idea of hounding people who do it, I genuinely wish to understand how there are people out there who still don’t accept this as an issue. Smoking is a very active choice, and the evidence of the harm it does is almost beyond argument. It is difficult having a baby these days as we are often told one thing is bad only to have it contradicted a few months later (for example I’m told it is now ok to give you baby peanuts before the age of 1 which wasn’t the case when lizzyface was born less than a year ago) and I do believe in trusting your gut a little and taking things with a pinch of salt but surely everyone agrees that we are not going to wake up tomorrow to a news report that smoking will make your baby bigger faster and stronger?
I don’t have an answer to this, and I have been pondering it all day. Of course one should always be careful with statistics and indeed with journalism. I haven’t seen the statistics, I don’t know how they were collated and I don’t have access to the information that the reporters used to write their story. There is a chance that this is just another example of those on low incomes being singled out as bad people when they are in their situation as a result of social failing. I’m sure there is some truth in that, there is enough money around that we could all live equitable and comfortable lives if only it were distributed equally and perhaps spent more wisely. Goodness knows fergotron and I work hard enough and have little spare at the end of the month so I’m not holding society above reprieve. But really, if you are pregnant then surely you must know you shouldn’t be smoking. Surely?