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Issue Date:- 3 February 2009

New support to help PARENTS-TO-BE go smokefree

A new campaign is being launched this week in the North West to encourage mums-to-be and their partners to quit smoking.  The campaign, launched by Smokefree North West and backed by former Hollyoaks star and TV presenter Terri Dwyer, aims to raise awareness of the risks of smoking during pregnancy as well as the support available to help parents-to-be to kick the habit. 

As part of the initiative, both mums-to-be and dads-to-be are being targeted with a series of hard-hitting new TV adverts.  The adverts highlight how mums to be who stop smoking - no matter how far along in pregnancy - can have immediate benefits to their baby.  The adverts also show that dads to be who smoke around their unborn baby are increasing the baby’s risk of developing health problems.   Every cigarette smoked by a pregnant woman restricts the essential oxygen supply to her baby, so that its tiny heart has to beat harder every time its mother smokes.  The good news is that stopping smoking will benefit the baby immediately and after two days of being smokefree, the nicotine leaves the body.  This is the positive message Smokefree North West wants pregnant women who smoke to hear.

Terri Dwyer, who lives in the North West with her husband and young son, provided the voiceover for the TV advert.  She said:-“Having lost both of my parents to cancer, I feel very strongly about raising awareness of the free help and support that is available to encourage people to quit smoking.  Quitting is not easy and it can take some pregnant smokers several attempts to get off cigarettes for good.  My mum was a smoker and I’ve always suffered from asthma as a result of being exposed to second hand smoke as a young child.  Now I’m a mum myself, I feel very strongly that all babies and children should be entitled to grow in a healthy environment without being exposed to the harmful effects of tobacco.”

Beverley Hughes, Minister for the North West (and Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families) is supporting the campaign.  She said:- “I strongly support this initiative in highlighting the risks of smoking during pregnancy and in particular the role of dads to be.  The effects of smoking – directly and through second hand smoke – on the unborn baby can be avoided if the mum to be and those around her get the help they need to quit.  I hope this campaign contributes to all the efforts in this region to improve the health of children and reduce smoking, especially for the North West’s more deprived communities.  I wish them success with this campaign.”

Andrea Crossfield, Director of Smokefree North West, said:- “The effects smoking can have on families are a real cause for concern in some of the most deprived communities of the North West.  Tackling the issue of parents-to-be smoking during pregnancy will take us one step further towards breaking the inter-generational cycle of tobacco-related health inequalities we face in the region.  There is plenty of help on offer and I would urge any parents to be who want their baby to grow in a smokefree environment to contact the NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 9 169.  Research has shown that smokers who quit with NHS support are up to four times more likely to succeed.”

As part of the region-wide initiative, Smokefree North West is also working with local health professionals to help reduce the number parents to be who smoke in the region.

Last year, 2,987 pregnant women in the region successfully stopped smoking with the NHS Stop Smoking Service.

MEPs combat child pornography on the Internet

MEPs are calling for the criminalisation of all types of sexual abuse of children including "grooming" and paedophile chat rooms on the internet.  MEPs will vote this week on a report this week calling for the criminalisation of internet providers of paedophile chat rooms and forums and to require national authorities to block access to or delete the domain names of the websites concerned.  The report also calls for credit card companies to cooperate to block the internet-based payment systems for websites involved in child pornography.

Local Labour Euro MP and children’s rights campaigner Arlene McCarthy said:- “Child abuse on the internet does not stop at national boundaries as police work has shown, tracking one UK case led to the discovery of information on a German foster parent and a Swedish army sergeant.  We are talking about in some cases the abuse of babies as young as 3 months.  That is why we need action at a European level.  We need an increased level of protection of children throughout Europe in view of the development of new technology, in particular the internet."

The report also calls for EU citizens who commit a sex crime outside the EU to be subject to standard extraterritorial legislation.  Applicants for certain posts working with children should also undergo a criminal records check and those whose work involves regular contact with children should have an obligation to report situations where abuse is suspected.

Arlene added:- "All Member States need the same definition of the sexual abuse of children to ensure that there are no loopholes for those exploiting children anywhere within the EU.   New technologies such as photo messaging and digital cameras make it easier for child abuse images to be produced and shared on the internet.  Lets hope that this report opens up new channels for action at an EU level to tackle this scourge of the internet age!”

Join the team - Yorkshire 3 Peaks

CHALLENGE yourself to one of the UK’s most rewarding walks and help the Red Cross support those facing challenges everyday.    The Red Cross helps support people, from within our local communities to across the world, out of crisis.  By joining the British Red Cross Yorkshire 3 Peak team you will be doubly rewarded – in the achievements of the day and in the knowledge
that you are helping others.  This walk covers 24½ miles, reaching the summits of Pen-y-Ghent (2277 ft), Whernside (2415 ft) and Ingleborough (2372 ft).  The walk starts and finishes in the village of Horton and covers a variety of terrain taking in some of the most magnificent scenery in the country.

Laura Cooper, Senior Fundraiser at the Red Cross:- “It is such a great feeling to know that you have actually done the renown Yorkshire 3 Peak walk.  It is only topped by the fact that you have helped others too!”

There is a registration fee of £10 to take part in the event and we are asking people to raise a minimum sponsorship of £100.  All participants will receive a fundraising pack and walkers guide and the local fundraising team will be on hand to offer advice and support.  Money raised from the event will help fund Red Cross services in the local community as well as overseas.

If you want to take up the challenge, to register for the event or for more information contact Laura on 0161 888 8915 or by email. 

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