Expectant fathers should be supported to quit smoking (China)


A survey in China of 466 expectant fathers who smoked or had recently quit has shown low levels of knowledge of the impacts of second hand smoking (SHS) on the health of pregnant women, foetuses and newborns, and low rates of quitting smoking.

The researchers conclude that healthcare organisations should implement health education and quitting interventions targeting expectant fathers.

Recruited through three hospitals, 83% of the participants were employed and 69% had a college education or above.

Belief in the need to quit was high in the sample. 94% felt they should quit smoking for the health of their baby. 91% believed smoking would damage their own health, 80% believed smoking could damage the health of pregnant women, and 71% the health of the foetus and newborn.

Despite these beliefs, only 31% of the expectant fathers had quit smoking after the start of the pregnancy. 37% had tried to quit and relapsed. The average daily consumption of those continuing to smoke was 6.6, after 37% reported they had reduced consumption by 50% or more during the pregnancy.

Knowledge about the health impacts of smoking was limited. On average participants could identify 2.06 out of 7 hazards to smokers themselves, 0.86 out of 3 hazards to pregnant women and 2.33 out of 7 hazards to foetuses and newborns. On the basis of this finding, the researchers recommend a focus on education.

The researchers found predictors of quitting.

  • More knowledge about health hazards of smoking to smokers, pregnant women, foetuses and newborns. This suggests also that the focus should be on education.
  • Being a first-time father – 2 times more likely to quit. On the basis of this the researchers recommend health services take steps to engage men who are not first-time fathers.

Meanwhile, lack of family support was correlated with less quitting. The researchers recommend referring families showing dysfunctional levels of support to appropriate organisations for counselling.

There is a smoking culture in China. Most Chinese smokers believe there are protective biological mechanisms specific to Asian populations. Non-smoking women in China are more tolerant of paternal smoking than in other countries. These factors suggest that China-specific approaches to encouraging smoking cessation are needed.


Xia W & Li WHC et al. (2020), Association of smoking behavior among Chinese expectant fathers and smoking abstinence after their partners becomes pregnant: A cross-sectional study, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 20

Header photo: Caleb and Tara VinCross. Creative Commons.