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N Z Med J. 2007 Jun 15;120(1256):U2588.

Pacific Islands Families Study: maternal factors associated with cigarette smoking amongst a cohort of Pacific mothers with infants.

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  • 1Auckland Tobacco Control Research Centre, Social and Community Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland. serickpe@aut.ac.nz



To describe the association between cigarette smoking and maternal factors amongst a cohort of Pacific mothers.


Mothers of a cohort of 1398 Pacific infants born in Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand during 2000 were interviewed when their infants were 6 weeks old (n=1376) and followed up at 12 months (n=1219). This paper is based on all mothers who were interviewed at both data points. Mothers participated in a 1-hour interview that included questions about the number of cigarettes smoked yesterday, and the number of other people living in the same home who currently smoke cigarettes. Cross tabulations and logistic regression models were applied to investigate the association between maternal smoking and health, demographic, social, cultural, and educational factors.


At the 6 weeks data point, 24.5% of mothers reported smoking, and at the 12-month follow-up, 29.8% of mothers smoked. From the 6 weeks measurement point more mothers started smoking (9.6%) than stopped (4.4%). Variables associated with smoking at 12 months after birth were: age (less than 20 years), non-Tongan ethnicity, non-partnered or de facto marital status, New Zealand-born, low income, full-time parenting, English fluency, non-separationalism, living with other smokers, size of house is too small, and overcrowding. After controlling for confounding variables, English fluency and cultural alignment to mainstream New Zealand culture remained statistically significant. Formal education qualifications, parity, and type of house they lived in were not significantly associated with smoking.


Many Pacific mothers in this cohort were smoking around the time of birth and continued to smoke a year after giving birth. These findings demonstrate the need to explore acculturation issues surrounding smoking behaviour and smoking cessation for Pacific women in New Zealand. A qualitative research design may assist in advancing a more effective response to cigarette smoking amongst Pacific mothers.

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