In France more than half of pregnant women are unsuccessful in quitting smoking during their pregnancy. Faced with this major public health issue, SOVAPE have reviewed studies and scientific advice on the use of vaping as a tool to help quit smoking.
During a consultation exercise with a support group that is in constant contact with pregnant woman, SOVAPE noted recurring concerns about vaping.
“Those who smoke are discouraged from using vaping as an aid to quitting smoking, and those that have managed to quit by vaping are stigmatized, made to feel guilty, and ‘summoned’ to stop vaping.”
The women felt the “interventions” were being carried out by friends and family - but also by doctors, midwives, obstetricians and gynaecologists. The end result was that women continued to smoke or, if they’d quit, a relapsed to smoking.
SOVAPE asked: “Why rule out one of the most effective smoking cessation tools available, when more than half (54.2%) of pregnant women who smoke are unsuccessful in their attempt to quit smoking by more traditional methods, according to data from Santé Publique France?”
The organisation’s newly published document, titled “Pregnancy and Vaping”, examines the issue and offers clear guidance.
SOVAPE looked at existing scientific literature, studies, and professional advice.
“A recent Cochrane review highlighted the influence of health professionals in attempts to stop smoking by pregnant women. When choosing nicotine substitutes and/or vaping, a significant psychological burden is placed on them. Discouraging the use of vaping, or even recommending its cessation, lessens the chances of successful cessation and can increases the risk of relapse for women who vape exclusively. The pressure exerted respects neither her freedom of choice nor the principle of ‘first do no harm’.”
It believes the French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF) is ignoring this principle and, in doing so, “presents a clear danger to women and their children.”
SOVAPE has issued a letter six weeks ago to the CNGOF and Santé Publique France pointing out, “the consequences of making recommendations based on incomplete evidence is an increased potential for harm, as it could prolong smoking or cause relapse to smoking in women that had previously quit by using vaping.”
A month and a half on and neither body has responded.
To address the difficulties of getting pregnant smokers to quit smoking, the Stop Smoking Service in Leicester launched a pilot in 2016: “Over the 2016/2017 period, out of the 228 pregnant users of the smoking cessation service Leicester, 85 used vaping, with or without nicotine replacement therapy, with a 60% successful quit rate. In comparison, the success rate was 32% with substitutes alone.”
The UK Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group commented: “This result does not constitute scientific proof that vaping is more effective in quitting smoking, but the case illustrates, using data from a local service, that vaping can be an effective aid by being associated with behavioural support.”
- “Tabagisme et grossesse: dissuader de vapoter, au risque du tabagisme?”, SOVAPE – [link]
- ETHRA – [link]
- "Vape and pregnancy" by SOVAPE – [link]
- Advice from Dr Marion Adler, tobacco specialist in smoking cessation assistance for pregnant women at Clamart Hospital since 2001 – [link]
- Advice from Dr William Lowenstein, President of SOS-Addiction – [link]