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Despite declines in tobacco use during pregnancy and after childbirth, smoking remains unacceptably high among many parents. Smoking maintenance or relapse may be common in couple relationships when the other parent continues to smoke, when relationship satisfaction is low, or parental stress high.
To examine the longitudinal influence of partner tobacco use, relationship satisfaction and parental stress on tobacco use after childbirth.
Data was obtained from 115 Australian heterosexual adult couples (Mean age = 31.8) who reported being pregnant in the previous year and the female partner was a previous or current smoker. A household longitudinal survey was administered in which measures of tobacco use, relationship satisfaction and parental stress were assessed on four occasions over nine years.
Overall reductions in tobacco use occurred over the nine-year assessment period, although a small percentage (9.6%) of parents reported being daily smokers at every assessment. Similarly, a small proportion (13.1%) of parents relapsed to using tobacco during the assessment period. A random effects binary logit model indicated that mothers and fathers were more likely to continue or relapse to tobacco use if their partners smoked. Mothers were more likely to quit smoking if they became pregnant between the assessment waves, but for males, having a pregnant partner was not a significant predictor of tobacco cessation.
While pregnancy is associated with smoking cessation for mothers, both mothers and fathers are at elevated risk of continued tobacco smoking or relapse if their partner smokes during the first nine years after childbirth. For parents who continue to smoke cigarettes or relapse after childbirth, engagement of the partner in smoking cessation may be a key factor in promoting positive outcomes.
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