Cigarette consumption during pregnancy has major health consequences for women and unborn children. The stigma of smoking during pregnancy might hinder mothers-to-be’s access to adequate healthcare and smoking cessation, especially in disadvantaged groups. This qualitative study was designed to describe extensively the public stigma associated with smoking during pregnancy.
Participants were French adults recruited from the general population through social networks (N=100). They were asked to answer three pairs of open-ended questions regarding cognitions, emotions and behaviours elicited in the general population by pregnant smoking women. An inductive thematic analysis was performed and inter-judge agreement was computed on 30% of the corpus analysed deductively. Finally, independence (chi-square) between themes and gender, education, parenthood and smoking status was tested.
Themes (n=25) were defined regarding cognitions (n=9, e.g., irresponsible, thoughtless and unmindful, etc.), emotions (n=8, e.g., anger, disgust, etc.) and behaviours (n=8, e.g., inform and persuade, moralise and blame, etc.). Global inter-judge agreement was strong (κ=0.8). No difference was observed in themes according to gender, parental status or education, indicating a heterogenous awareness of stigma. However, some differences were observed according to smoking status (χ2 = 69.59, p = 0.02) (e.g., non-smokers more frequently stressed immorality).
The stigma associated with smoking during pregnancy includes various components that might be measured and targeted in interventions to improve access to adequate healthcare and smoking cessation in this specific population.
This qualitative study explores the stigma that the general French population attaches to pregnant women who smoke. Themes regarding cognitions (e.g., irresponsible, thoughtless and unmindful, etc.), emotions (e.g., anger, disgust, etc.) and behaviours (e.g., inform and persuade, moralise and blame, etc.) were identified. These themes could guide further research regarding scale development and anti-stigma interventions to support smoking cessation.