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Factors associated with antenatal smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in two jurisdictions


Dr Megan E. Passey, University Centre for Rural Health—North Coast, PO Box 3074, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia. Tel: +61 2 6620 7516; Fax: +61 2 6620 7270; E-mail:


Introduction and Aims. Smoking rates are three times as high for pregnant Indigenous women relative to non-Indigenous women, in Australia. This paper describes Indigenous women's self-reported antenatal smoking behaviour and compares knowledge and attitudes of those who: (i) smoke and don't smoke during pregnancy; and (ii) quit or continued to smoke since the beginning of pregnancy.

Design and Methods. Cross-sectional surveys with 264 pregnant Indigenous women in two states collected data on smoking status, antenatal changes, risk knowledge, attitudes to smoking and sociodemographic characteristics. Multivariable logistic regression analyses assessed associations between knowledge and attitude variables and smoking status and antenatal changes in smoking status.

Results. Forty-six per cent of the women (n = 121) reported currently smoking. The majority (68%) who smoked at the beginning of pregnancy reported quitting (21%) or reducing (47%). Relative to smokers, non-smokers had more schooling (= 0.002), more post-secondary education (= 0.023), lower parity (= 0.003), better understanding of smoking-related risks (miscarriage= 0.01; low birth weight= 0.003; infant illness< 0.001; childhood behavioural problems= 0.007), and less frequently expressed attitudes indicating that quitting was very difficult given other problems they faced. Similar patterns were found for women who quit during pregnancy compared to those who continued smoking.

Discussion and Conclusions. Increasing awareness of antenatal smoking risks and the benefits of quitting may motivate women to attempt to quit. However, knowledge alone is unlikely to be sufficient considering the life circumstances of many Indigenous women. Addressing the social environment and daily stressors, particularly those exacerbated by pregnancy, may be critical to supporting quit attempts.[Passey ME, D'Este CA, Stirling JM, Sanson-Fisher RW. Factors associated with antenatal smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in two jurisdictions. Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:608–616]