Perceptions of emerging tobacco products and nicotine replacement therapy among pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy
The increasing availability of emerging non-combusted tobacco products (snus, dissolvables, and electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS) may have implications for pregnant women and women of reproductive age. We conducted 15 focus groups to explore how women perceive emerging non-combusted tobacco products and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in general, and during pregnancy. Sessions were held in 2013 in four U.S. cities. Participants were 18-40 years old and were pregnant smokers, pregnant quitters, or smokers planning a pregnancy. Responses were coded and analyzed to identify key themes using NVivo 10.0 qualitative software (QSR). Several themes emerged from focus groups. Participants generally found snus unappealing, but viewed dissolvables as a discreet and stigma-free way to use tobacco during pregnancy. Participants perceived NRT as ineffective and having undesired side effects. ENDS were thought to offer advantages over cigarettes, including use in smoke-free areas, lower cost, appealing flavors, and fewer health effects, and were seen by some as a potential quit aid. Some participants, however, worried that the lack of natural stopping point could lead to excessive use. Many participants felt that the use of any tobacco or NRT product is harmful during pregnancy. Women seeking to reduce health risks or stigma related to smoking during pregnancy may perceive advantages of using some emerging products over cigarettes. These findings can inform future public health efforts to reduce risks associated with tobacco product use among women of reproductive age.