‘I've never ever let anyone hold the kids while they've got ciggies’: moral tales of maternal smoking practices


Address for correspondence: Clare Holdsworth, Department of Geography, University of Liverpool, Roxby Building, Liverpool, L69 7ZT e-mail: clare.holdsworth@liv.ac.uk


Smoking in the home is, potentially, the next frontier in tobacco control in the developed world. As smoking regulations in public space are extended, attention is turning to private spaces and the contribution of parental, particularly maternal, smoking to children's health and socio-economic inequalities in family health. Yet relatively little is known about mothers’ smoking practices within the home and the social meanings of smoking that are constructed by these practices. In this paper we explore how mothers who smoke construct moralities of their smoking behaviour, particularly in relation to where and with whom they smoke. Drawing on in-depth Biographic Narrative Interpretative Method, in interviews with 12 smoking mothers, and their partners, we consider how these moral tales involve comparisons with other smokers and the importance of community endorsement of smoking practices, particularly around children. We also consider the role of children in the home and how children are actively involved in the regulation of smoking behaviours. Finally, we consider the implications of these moral tales for interventions around smoke-free homes.