Pregnant TV host's shameful secret

TV host Chrissie Swan says she felt guilty every time she puffed on a cigarette.
TV host Chrissie Swan says she felt guilty every time she puffed on a cigarette.

AN Aussie TV host has triggered up an uncomfortable health debate after she was caught smoking whilst pregnant with her third child.

Chrissie Swan tearfully confessed on Melbourne radio yesterday to her "shameful secret" and how a pap pic of her smoking forced her to come clean to her family and husband.

Swan, who is in the third trimester of pregnancy, said she was in denial for months, wrestling with internal justification and guilt.

"I have struggled terribly with totally giving up cigarettes since I found out I was pregnant," she said.

"Up until about six years ago I was what you call a full-time smoker ... I never smoked at home and I never smoked around my family. I'd just sneak a few here and there and I know I'm not alone in this."

"I just failed and failed"

Swan, who hosts the TV show Can of Worms and is one of the nation's most popular personalities, said that she "tried to go cold turkey ... but I couldn't do it. I just failed and failed, time after time. I'd win for a few days then I would have a cigarette and feel terrible and racked with guilt and I would get stressed out and hid have one again. Giving up is so hard and I've really learned that in the last six months."

She said she looked online for ways to quit and learned the first step was to find the right time - but her hectic schedule was her downfall.

"Ordinarily that would be the easiest step of all but at the time I was so busy and had so much on. I had two radio shows, Can Of Worms had just started, a new TV show, interstate travel every week, a weekly column, a relationship, a house to run - I was selling my house, I was trying to find somewhere else to live - I have a four-year-old and Kit wasn't even one-year-old yet and there didn't seem to be any time at all, let alone the right time, so I kept trying and falling down."

Swan has been lambasted for smoking while pregnant. Her admission immediately sparked an emotional debate on Twitter, and Swan has removed her profile.

Smoking is an addiction

Almost 14 per cent of women smoke daily in Australia, and 7.7 per cent of women smoke while pregnant, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey report.

Professor Mike Daube, the President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, believes Swan's profile could help Australia accept that smoking is an addiction.

"One of first things I want to say is it's really important that we recognise for many people smoking is addictive for some people it is very had to quit, and so I think great credit to Chrissie Swan for speaking publicly about her concern," he said.

"I do think it's important she does look forward now and not back - and doesn't blame herself for things going wrong, it would awful if she felt angst every moment of the day.

"Quitting smoking is very important. It is the best thing you can do for the health of your unborn child - smoking contributes to and is a substantial factor in miscarriage, low birth weight in SIDs [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome], it's also associated with a range of other complications. So in summary, if you quit you increase the chances of your baby getting through pregnancy safely, you increase its chances of health in its early years and you increase significantly its prospects of health in later life as well."

He said that pregnant women "should never, ever be hesitant about asking their doctors as we know doctors will give them the support they need".

Sydney Morning Herald