Background: Pregnant women are exposed to tobacco smoke through active smoking and contact with secondhand smoke (SHS), and these exposures have a significant impact on public health. We investigated the factors that mediate active smoking, successful quitting, and SHS exposure among pregnant women in Crete, Greece.
Methods: Using a cotinine-validated questionnaire, data were collected on active smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke from 1291 women who had successfully completed the first contact questionnaire of the prospective mother-child cohort (Rhea) in Crete during the 12th week of pregnancy.
Results: Active smoking at some time during pregnancy was reported by 36% of respondents, and 17% were current smokers at week 12 of gestation. Those less likely to quit smoking during pregnancy were those married to a smoker (OR, 1.76; P = 0.008), those who were multiparous (1.72; P = 0.011), and those with young husbands. Of the 832 (64%) nonsmokers, almost all (94%, n = 780) were exposed to SHS, with the majority exposed at home (72%) or in a public place (64%). Less educated women and younger women were exposed more often than their better educated and older peers (P < 0.001). Adjusting for potential confounders, parental level of education, age, and ethnicity were the main mediators of exposure to SHS during pregnancy.
Conclusions: Active smoking and exposure to SHS are very prevalent among pregnant women in Greece. The above findings indicate the need for support of population-based educational interventions aimed at smoking cessation in both parents, as well as of the importance of establishing smoke-free environments in both private and public places.