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There is evidence that partners and family members play a powerful role in influencing whether pregnant women quit smoking and are able to maintain abstinence in the postpartum period. Compared to pregnant women who live with non-smokers, those who live with a partner who smokes are less likely to stop smoking during pregnancy and more likely to relapse during the postpartum period.

If a partner is resistant to quitting smoking, encouraging the woman to ask her partner to quit with her may cause tension in the relationship. In other cases, the woman is pressured by her partner to quit, making her process more difficult. Considering the possible stress that smoking cessation may put on a woman’s relationship (with the possibility for elevated frustration and anger), partner cessation should be considered and supported separately from the woman’s own attempt to quit.


  • Address partner smoking, but separately from the woman
    You might ask: Is your partner thinking about quitting or modifying smoking behaviour? How does your partner feel about your present decision to try to quit smoking?
  • Don’t assume that the pregnant woman’s partner will want her to quit smoking
    Remember that the woman may or may not have a partner present in her life, and if present, the partner may not be supportive about the pregnancy or about the woman’s attempt to quit smoking.
  • Remember that a partner may be male or female



Bottorff, J. L., Kalaw, C., Johnson, J. L., Stewart, M., Greaves, L., and Carey, J. (2006). Couple dynamics during women’s tobacco reduction in pregnancy and postpartum. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 8(4), 499-509. PMID: 16920647

Bottorff, J. L., Carey, J., Poole, N., Greaves, L., & Urquhart, C. (2008). Couples and smoking: What you need to know when you are pregnant. Vancouver, BC: Jointly published by the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the Institute for Health Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, University of British Columbia Okanagan, and NEXUS, University of British Columbia Vancouver. ISBN 978-1-894356-61-9

Gage, J.D., Everett, K.D., and Bullock, L. (2007). A review of research literature addressing male partners and smoking during pregnancy. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 36(6): 574-580. PMID: 17973701 DOI: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2007.00188.x

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