About the Expecting to Quit Project

In 2003, the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health in Vancouver, BC conducted a best practices review funded by Health Canada to examine smoking cessation interventions tested in pregnant populations. This report, Expecting to Quit: A Best Practices Review of Smoking Cessation Interventions for Pregnant and Postpartum Girls and Women, was published in both English and French and has been translated and utilized in countries around the world.

Since 2003, the reported rates of smoking during pregnancy in Canada and the US have slightly declined. However, the postpartum relapse rates appear to be just as high, continuing to call into question the overall effectiveness of public health campaigns and interventions aimed at pregnant women. In response, in 2010, researchers at the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, with the support of Health Canada, conducted a follow-up review. The main questions were:

  • Based on current evidence, what are the most effective smoking cessation/reduction interventions for pregnant and postpartum smokers?
  • What interventions are most effective at preventing relapse postpartum?

A second edition of Expecting to Quit has been published and is available for download on this website. This revised edition reviews research and intervention development in the years since the first edition was published in 2003. It reflects recent emerging interventions and better practices with a variety of groups of pregnant and postpartum women, with an added section on high-risk populations of pregnant smokers.

Five Ways to Change Your Practice: It Can Take Only Five Minutes

We also synthesized and extracted key findings and promising practices to develop practice recommendations for physicians and other health care providers who work with pregnant and postpartum girls and women.

The materials available on this website are one component of an overall strategy to bridge the “know-do gap”.  In "Five Ways to Change Your Practice," health care providers are provided with an overview of brief smoking cessation interventions. As well, other important issues highlighted in the best practices review are explored, including: 

  • the challenges for physician advice and counselling with pregnant and postpartum smokers
  • the importance of providing cessation/reduction advice and relapse prevention that is reflective of social context and pregnancy-related biology, is sensitive to age and disadvantage and is relevant, especially to young pregnant women
  • the use and availability of materials and information to enhance engagement with pregnant smokers and relevant professional and community resources and supports

Every woman has her own reasons for smoking...

We have developed practical resources for pregnant and postpartum girls and women who smoke that go beyond addressing individual behaviour change to acknowledging the social and environmental factors that influence smoking maintenance and cessation. These materials were developed in collaboration with experts in tobacco cessation and women's addictions, and through focus groups with pregnant and postpartum smokers and former smokers. The materials use a harm reduction, women-centered approach and draw upon promising practices highlighted in the project report.  These resources can also be used by health care providers in engaging with women.

These resources are continuing to be tested and developed in collaboration with pregnant and postpartum smokers through ongoing work at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and will be "translated" into digital and print versions to increase accessibility and usability for all groups of pregnant and postpartum women around the world.

  • Every Woman has her own reasons for smoking.
  • Every woman can find her own way of quitting and staying smoke-free-in her own time.