Smoke Alarm

Do some women honestly not know that tobacco use during pregnancy can harm their child?

According to NPR, yes.

A recent report in the Lancet Global Health showed patterns of pregnant women in 54 different countries smoking or using other tobacco products during their pregnancies. With usage percentages ranging from 3 – 15 percent, a Tuesday article by NPR stressed the importance of educating women everywhere on the adverse side effects.


A central conflict to this goal arises with the tobacco industry’s desire to tap into specifically female-targeted marketing. Over 4 times more men smoke than women, causing companies to push advertising strategies focused on enticing the female viewer into her first cigarette.


Karen K. Gutierrez, director of the Global Smoke-Free Workplace Challenge, told NPR that even women who are aware of the possible risks “minimize” them by “thinking that, sure it could happen, but there’s a low likelihood.”

Gutierrez also brings up – in my opinion – the most challenging problem with deterring our mothers-to-be from having a smoke: women do not want to be scared or shamed into quitting their bad habit. She claims that a “preachy ad with an accusatory tone” will only cause women to turn away from the message and continue smoking.


So how do we do it? If women don’t want to be shocked by images of premature babies and alarming statistics, how do we deter them from falling victim to the tobacco industry’s increasingly female-focused marketing?

With shaming and scaring off the list, where do we look next? Turning to a heavily emotional appeal might cause viewers to react similarly to an ASPCA commercial – I know I roll my eyes and change the channel as soon I hear Sarah McLachlan’s voice.

But the consequences of tobacco use – especially during pregnancy – are scary.

If women won’t respond to ads that accurately depict how destructive their actions are, where is the happy medium between pushing them away and communicating just how lethal smoking can be?





Brink, S. (2014, September 8). Time To Send A Message To Pregnant Women Who Use Tobacco. Retrieved September 8, 2014.

Bloch, M. (2014). The Lancet iPad app: Articles in a new light. (n.d.). Retrieved September 8, 2014, from

2 thoughts on “Smoke Alarm

  1. If people are offended by the pictures, they could probably tell a story about a child who had disabilities due to their mother smoking during pregnancy. The pictures are extreme, but this is also of extreme importance and something that needs people’s attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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