ABOUT 30 per cent of Northern Tasmanian mothers smoke while pregnant, according to Cancer Council's latest fellowship recipient and researcher Mai Frandsen.
The ``extremely high'' rate is the single-most preventable cause of poor pregnancy outcomes, Dr Frandsen said yesterday.
Outcomes include pre-term birth, sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory issues, as well as learning difficulties and obesity in later life.
A $95,000 fellowship, in partnership with the University of Tasmania's faculty of health, was granted to Dr Frandsen in a bid to recruit and assist 100 expectant mothers to quit smoking.
Dr Frandsen said Northern Tasmania had one of the highest rates of smoking while pregnant in the country.
She said preventing smoking during pregnancy would have wider benefits for Tasmania's community and healthcare system.
Support will be offered to Northern Tasmanians coming into their first term of pregnancy and will include ongoing assistance to remain smoke-free after their child is born.
Cancer Council chief executive Penny Egan said funds, in-kind support and use of facilities would be provided by the university.
``This might be the first time we've collaborated with the university, so it's hopefully the start of lots more collaboration with the university sector,'' Mrs Egan said.
University of Tasmania deputy head of school Dominic Geraghty said they hoped future research would be supported by organisations such as the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council.