Smoking among low-income pregnant women: An ethnographic analysis

Mimi Nichter, Mark Nichter, Myra Muramoto, Shelly Adrian, Kate Goldade, Laura Tesler, Jennifer Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This article presents findings from a qualitative study of 53 low-income women who were smokers at the onset of pregnancy. Study participants were interviewed during pregnancy to document smoking trajectories and factors contributing to, or undermining, harm reduction and quit attempts. Thirty percent of women quit smoking completely, 43% engaged in sustained harm reduction, and 26% reduced their smoking levels intermittently. Case studies of women are presented to illustrate reasons for quitting, harm reduction practices, and factors influencing relapse and smoking continuation. Women's motivations to quit are highlighted. Moral identity as a mother was found to be a key motivating factor behind women's quit attempts. Future programs targeting this population would do well to acknowledge moral identity as an issue and recognize the challenges of quitting for women with limited social support and little control over their immediate environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)748-764
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Ethnography
  • Harm reduction
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative data
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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