A study, by the University of Edinburgh, found smoke-free legislation was associated with an immediate 7.8% reduction in stillbirth and a 7.6% reduction in neonatal deaths.

Researchers estimated that 991 stillbirths and 430 newborn deaths were prevented in the first four years after the law to prohibit smoking in public places was introduced.

Furthermore, over five thousand fewer babies were born with a low birth weight of less than two and a half kilograms.

Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust and CO-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group said: “We hugely welcome the positive impact of the smoking ban on perinatal and infant mortality. Exposure to smoke can be lethal for babies in the womb and for new borns,

“The UK has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Western Europe and keeping babies smoke free is an essential plank of our strategy to drive this down over the next 10 years.

“We look forward to the introduction of plain packaging and a ban on smoking in cars with children in October – new measures which will also help to prevent the deaths of many more babies in the future.”

The Impact of smoke-free legislation in perinatal and infant mortality study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was conducted by researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Imperial College London, the Erasmus University Medical Centre and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US.

Researchers looked at information on more than ten million births in England between 1995 and 2011.