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J Epidemiol. 2010;20(5):355-62. Epub 2010 Jun 26.

Factors associated with active smoking, quitting, and secondhand smoke exposure among pregnant women in Greece.

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Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.



Pregnant women are exposed to tobacco smoke through active smoking and contact with secondhand smoke (SHS), and these exposures have a significant impact on public health. We investigated the factors that mediate active smoking, successful quitting, and SHS exposure among pregnant women in Crete, Greece.


Using a cotinine-validated questionnaire, data were collected on active smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke from 1291 women who had successfully completed the first contact questionnaire of the prospective mother-child cohort (Rhea) in Crete during the 12th week of pregnancy.


Active smoking at some time during pregnancy was reported by 36% of respondents, and 17% were current smokers at week 12 of gestation. Those less likely to quit smoking during pregnancy were those married to a smoker (OR, 1.76; P = 0.008), those who were multiparous (1.72; P = 0.011), and those with young husbands. Of the 832 (64%) nonsmokers, almost all (94%, n = 780) were exposed to SHS, with the majority exposed at home (72%) or in a public place (64%). Less educated women and younger women were exposed more often than their better educated and older peers (P < 0.001). Adjusting for potential confounders, parental level of education, age, and ethnicity were the main mediators of exposure to SHS during pregnancy.


Active smoking and exposure to SHS are very prevalent among pregnant women in Greece. The above findings indicate the need for support of population-based educational interventions aimed at smoking cessation in both parents, as well as of the importance of establishing smoke-free environments in both private and public places.

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