Press Release - Friday, 26 June 2020
SOVAPE publish the first comprehensive document in France on vaping and smoking cessation during pregnancy
Smoking and pregnancy: should we really discourage vaping, at the risk of smoking?
In France more than half of pregnant women are unsuccessful in quitting smoking during their pregnancy. Faced with this major public health issue, SOVAPE have reviewed studies and scientific advice on the use of vaping as a tool to help quit smoking.
Difficult to stay the course among pregnant women
In conversation with INFO VAPE, a support group that is in daily contact with pregnant women, SOVAPE have noted recurring concerns about vaping. Those who smoke are discouraged from using vaping as an aid to quitting smoking, and those that have managed to quit by vaping are stigmatized, made to feel guilty, and “summoned” to stop vaping.
These “interventions” carried out by those around them, but also by doctors, midwives, obstetricians and gynaecologists, frequently lead to continued smoking or a relapsed to smoking. Why rule out one of the most effective smoking cessation tools available, when more than half (54.2%) of pregnant women who smoke are unsuccessful in their attempt to quit smoking by more traditional methods, according to data from Santé Publique France?
A document published today by SOVAPE, titled “Pregnancy and Vaping”, examines this issue. It is specifically intended for those women as well as their families and medical teams.
A review of studies available in 2020
In developing the document, SOVAPE has taken existing scientific literature, studies, and professional advice into account. As the inherent dangers of smoking are well established, adherence to precautionary principle clearly calls for the encouragement of pregnant women to stop smoking, which must include vaping.
A recent Cochrane review highlighted the influence of health professionals in attempts to stop smoking by pregnant women. When choosing nicotine substitutes and/or vaping, a significant psychological burden is placed on them. Discouraging the use of vaping, or even recommending its cessation, lessens the chances of successful cessation and can increases the risk of relapse for women who vape exclusively. The pressure exerted respects neither her freedom of choice nor the principle of "first do no harm".
A dangerous recommendation of the French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF)
While carrying out our research SOVAPE discovered a CNGOF opinion piece published in January 2020. The document is of high quality when addressing the harms of tobacco, but it is problematic in that there is a lack of consideration of the available studies on vaping, and no differentiation is made between vaping products and tobacco products such as shisha and heated tobacco.
By recommending that women who have already stopped smoking by vaping should quit, the CNGOF contravenes the precautionary principle. This misguided recommendation greatly increases the risk of relapse to smoking, and in the opinion of SOVAPE, presents a clear danger to women and their children.
SOVAPE sent a letter to the CNGOF and its partners
SOVAPE sent a detailed letter to the CNGOF, as well as to the SFT (co-editor of the opinion), to Santé Publique France (patronage) and to all the organisations that co-signed the opinion piece. The consequences of making recommendations based on incomplete evidence is an increased potential for harm, as it could prolong smoking or cause relapse to smoking in women that had previously quit by using vaping. Considering the body of evidence, studies and expert opinion on this subject that have been neglected in the writing of the opinion piece, a re-examination of this piece is necessary. For the moment, one and a half months after this letter was sent, no organisation has responded.
Link to INFO VAPE [link]
French version of this press release [link]
Full publication of SOVAPE "Vape and pregnancy" [link]
Advice from Dr. Marion Adler, tobacco specialist in smoking cessation assistance for pregnant women at Clamart Hospital since 2001 [link]
Advice from Dr. William Lowenstein, President of SOS-Addiction [link]