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Objectives To explore women's attitudes to their partners' smoking behaviours during pregnancy. Design Qualitative semi-structured interview study. Setting Interviews were collected in the participants' homes in Oxfordshire and Berkshire in the UK. Subjects A purposive sample of women who were smokers at the start of a pregnancy, who also had a partner who smoked. Results Examples of four strategies that are, at least theoretically, available to men were identified and described. These are: carry on smoking and encourage the woman to quit; carry on smoking and do not comment on the woman's smoking; avoid smoking in front of the woman and encourage the woman to quit; and avoid smoking in front of the woman and do not comment on the woman's smoking. Some women report feeling unsupported by partners who carry on smoking during the pregnancy, even if they did not smoke near them. Smoking status is often shared among couples and if the man does not quit during pregnancy the women may be more likely to relapse, particularly after the baby is born. Discussion There may be a mismatch between men's and women's motivation to quit smoking during pregnancy and the postpartum period. While women are particularly motivated by the pregnancy, men may be more keen on quitting once the baby is born. However, once the baby is born women are more inclined to relapse. Awareness of this mismatch may make it easier for couples to use pregnancy as an opportunity for them both to stop smoking.

Original publication




Journal article


Health Education Journal

Publication Date





232 - 240