A story of stigma: Australian women's accounts of smoking in pregnancy

Wigginton, Britta and Lee, Christina (2013) A story of stigma: Australian women's accounts of smoking in pregnancy. Critical Public Health, 23 4: 466-481. doi:10.1080/09581596.2012.753408

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Author Wigginton, Britta
Lee, Christina
Title A story of stigma: Australian women's accounts of smoking in pregnancy
Journal name Critical Public Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0958-1596
Publication date 2013-12
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/09581596.2012.753408
Open Access Status
Volume 23
Issue 4
Start page 466
End page 481
Total pages 16
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract A substantial minority of Western women smoke during pregnancy. Understanding smoking from these women’s point of view may provide a richer understanding of experiences that are very often silenced, and provide some explanation for why pregnant women smoke despite widely disseminated public health campaigns urging them to stop. Strong social pressures directed at women to stop, justified mainly by arguments of protecting the foetus, are reinforced through the policing of women’s bodies, which is particularly powerful during pregnancy. This emerges in the form of criticism, confrontation and judgement, irrespective of individual women’s contexts and social backgrounds. Interviews with 11 Australian women who had smoked during recent pregnancies were conducted to explore their smoking-related experience of stigma. Thematic analysis examined their perceptions of stigma and surveillance, in the strong anti-smoking climate of Australia. Women’s talk constructed medical and social pressures as two separate dimensions of stigma, which they accepted or resisted, or – at times – did both. They also used discursive strategies to negotiate their position as ‘good mothers’ despite stigma, and spoke about the need to manage the contexts in which they smoked. The women’s talk suggests that directive, critical public health campaigns, and the associated social stigma, may actually make it harder for some to stop smoking. More supportive approaches that move away from a focus on individual responsibility, and from the assumption that pregnant women need to be coerced into healthy decision-making, might better assist some pregnant smokers to seek cessation support.
Keyword Smoking
Tobacco control
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Version of record first published: 19 December 2012.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 11 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 11 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 14 Apr 2013, 11:09:10 EST by Mrs Alison Pike on behalf of School of Psychology