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Abstract

This paper considers the topic of women's smoking in pregnancy within the general context of the current health promotion concern about smoking as a public health issue. Drawing on data from an ongoing research project which is investigating the interrelationships between‘risk’, social support and reproductive health, the paper argues that smoking in pregnancy constitutes an area of women's behaviour which is linked in systematic ways with aspects of their material and social position. Consequently, conventional individualist models of smoking behaviour both fail to explain why pregnant women smoke and are unable adequately to account for the health consequences of this behaviour. The reason for singling out smoking in this analysis inheres not in any detrimental health effect directly attributable to it, but rather to the way in which pregnancy smoking has been socially constructed as a reprehensible feature of women's life-styles.