MORE pregnant women are smoking more in Southampton than in most of the south, new figures have revealed.

A study by the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed that 16.4 per cent of women smoked while pregnant between April 2013 and March this year.

Of the 3,361 pregnancies delivered in Southampton, 551 mothers smoked, which is second in the Hampshire and wider Wessex area only to NHS Dorset, which had 906 smokers from 7,359 pregnancies.

It also comes as the national average of smoking mothers has dropped in the past year from 12.7 per cent to 12 per cent.

As revealed by the Daily Echo earlier this year, smoking costs the city council a massive £75m per year, including £2m spent on picking up fag ends.

Of that total, an estimated £15.9m is from workers taking smoke breaks and £13.7m for sick days relating to tobacco.

But Southampton City Council has launched the Making Southampton a Smoke Free City: Tobacco Control Plan after signing up to the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control, an initiative signed by 50 councils to better protect residents’ health from smoking.

The Daily Echo has already revealed how new anti-smoking signs are being erected in outdoor children’s play areas as part of the Making Southampton a Smoke-Free City initiative.

This year’s figure for Southampton is less than last, but by only 0.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Isle of Wight has the worst percentage of pregnant smokers in the region at 18.4 per cent, or 241 women out of 1,308 pregnancies.

Anyone looking for help to quit smoking can contact Solent NHS Trust's Southampton Quitters on 023 8051 5221.