BOLTON has one of the worst rates in the country of women smoking during pregnancy.

New figures have revealed 18.7 per cent of mums-to-be in the borough smoke while they are pregnant, compared to a national average of 13.5 per cent.

In Breightmet North 37 per cent of mothers were still smokers when their baby was born, and in Moses Gate that figure stood at 33 per cent.

The worst rates of smoking in pregnancy were in the 15 to 19-year-old and 20 to 24-year-old age groups.

A new service — Bump The Habit — is now being launched to help pregnant women quit smoking.

It will offer one-on-one support and advice, weekly meetings and help will be tailored to each woman’s needs.

Tracey Holliday, a nurse who works for the specialist service, is herself a former smoker.

She said: “There are lots of stressful issues that can make it hard to quit during pregnancy — there are all the changes going on in your body, a pregnancy can be unplanned, or the dad is no longer around.

“We want women to know we understand these things. We know it is tough, and we’re not going to judge them or tell them off. But giving up smoking is the single most important thing a mum can do for the health of her baby, and we’re here to help and support them as they try to achieve this.”

Wendy Meredith, director of public health for Bolton, said she hoped the rebranded service would help “close the health gap” between the town and other areas of the country.

She added: “We know to a degree that Bolton’s higher than average figures can be explained by social factors such as low income.

“However, we can’t really explain why Bolton has higher figures than other areas in the country with a similar make-up as Bolton.

“We need to do more to help people stay healthy and well.”

The service will launch on Monday, September 24, at Harvey Children’s Centre in Shaw Street.

For information about the service call 01204 462365 or email