A new study investigating the relationship between e-cigarette use and postpartum return to smoking suggests that vaping could prevent a return to cigarettes after pregnancy.
The research was titled: “Are E-cigarettes associated with postpartum return to smoking? Secondary analyses of a UK pregnancy longitudinal cohort”. According to the research team, it’s the first study to explore the use of e-cigarettes in pregnancy and postpartum in terms of the risk of returning to smoking.
In 2019/2020, 12.1% of women in England smoked in early pregnancy, with around half attempting to quit following conception. However, relapse is common. Up to 75% returned to smoking within 12 months of giving birth, harming not only their own health but also the health of their children via second-hand smoke.
The researchers stated that postpartum return to smoking (PPRS) is an important health problem, and said, “E-cigarette use has increased in recent years, and in a contemporary UK pregnancy cohort, we investigated factors, including ECs use, associated with PPRS”.
The researchers went on to state that there are currently no effective interventions for reducing PPRS, and said that, “understanding the factors that are associated with PPRS is essential for the development of targeted and evidence-based interventions”.
The study used surveys at 8-26 weeks into pregnancy, 34-36 weeks and 3 months after delivery to analyse smoking behaviours and beliefs as well as views and experiences of e-cigarette use. 750 women who were current/ex-smokers or vapers were recruited from 17 hospitals across England and Scotland.
In terms of e-cigarette (EC) use, 30.7% of the participants reported using an EC at some point in pregnancy, and 19.9% reported using an EC at some point postpartum. 48.8% of those who used an EC in pregnancy also used an EC postpartum.
The researchers concluded in their key findings that using ECs in pregnancy, breastfeeding and not having a household member who smokes are all factors associated with a lower likelihood of returning to smoking postpartum.
Whilst these findings are promising, further research is needed to back them up and investigate the possibility that vaping could be a valuable tool for preventing a return to smoking after pregnancy. Always consult your GP first to discuss your options and find the best quit smoking solution for you and your baby.