Smoking cessation in pregnancy: a continuing challenge in the United States

Ashley Scherman, Jorge E. Tolosa, Cindy McEvoy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Despite significant population level declines, smoking during pregnancy remains a major public health issue in the United States (US). Approximately 360,000–500,000 smoke-exposed infants are born yearly, and prenatal smoking remains a leading modifiable cause of poor birth outcomes (e.g. birth < 37 gestational weeks, low birth weight, perinatal mortality). Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to be younger and from disadvantaged socioeconomic and racial and ethnic groups, with some US geographic regions reporting increased prenatal smoking rates since 2000. Such disparities in maternal prenatal smoking suggests some pregnant women face unique barriers to cessation. This paper reviews the current state and future direction of smoking cessation in pregnancy in the US. We briefly discuss the etiology of smoking addiction among women, the pathophysiology and effects of tobacco smoke exposure on pregnant women and their offspring, and the emerging issue of electronic nicotine delivery systems. Current population-based and individual smoking cessation interventions are reviewed in the context of pregnancy and barriers to cessation among US women. Finally, we consider interventions that are on the horizon and areas in need of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-474
Number of pages18
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Drug Safety
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Cigarettes
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery System
  • Narrative Review
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Smoking in Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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