Smoking mothers: Ballarat friends defend Chrissie Swan

BALLARAT experts and friends have defended media personality Chrissie Swan amid fallout from paparazzi photos showing her smoking while pregnant. 

A tearful Swan broke down on her Melbourne radio show this week, telling listeners she had confessed the “shameful secret” to her husband and family. 

Press reports suggested her management company had offered as much as $53,000 to stop the photos being published by a women’s magazine.

Ballarat television presenter Gorgi Coghlan yesterday called for understanding and respect to be shown to her friend and colleague. “At the end of the day we need to do everything we can to support women who are pregnant and under pressure, and remember that stress and personal issues can lead us to do things like this,” she said. 

Coghlan said she wasn’t surprised by the media reaction, but hoped readers wouldn’t purchase any magazine that published the photos. 

“Unfortunately, when you are in the public eye part of your job is to be scrutinised, but we need to remember that Chrissie is an everyday person who has feeling and a family and has admitted to a mistake.” 

Ballarat Health Services Quit Clinic co-ordinator Kim Knights said giving up smoking quickly could be difficult for pregnant women but help was available. 

“There is a real social stigma and women feel ashamed and guilty, because nicotine is highly addictive,” she said. 

The clinic uses anti-smoking questionnaires and treatment plans, support appointments and carbon monoxide breath testing to help mothers quit. 

“Any smoker’s chance of quitting doubles with the assistance of smoking cessation counselling,” Ms Knights said.

Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said 9 per cent of expectant mothers reported smoking a month before the birth of their child.

 “When you consider there are 80,000 births in Victoria every year we are certainly talking about thousands, but equally something like 42 per cent of women quit smoking when they are pregnant,” she said. 

Ms Sharkie said the best thing a woman could do for their health was quit smoking whether pregnant or not, and postponing smoking while pregnant would not remove all the risks. 

Quit Victoria has specialist help for pregnant women available over the phone. 

For more information, call Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit quit.org.au

thomas.mcilroy@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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