Why is smoking during pregnancy harmful?

Smoking during pregnancy is bad for you and your baby. Quitting smoking, even if you’re already pregnant, can make a big difference in your baby’s life. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and can cause serious health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, gum disease and eye diseases that can lead to blindness.


How can smoking affect your pregnancy?

If you smoke during pregnancy, you’re more likely than nonsmokers to have:

  • Preterm labor. This is labor than starts too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm labor can lead to premature birth.
  • Ectopic pregnancy. This is when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus (womb) and begins to grow. An ectopic pregnancy cannot result in the birth of a baby. It can cause serious, dangerous problems for the pregnant woman.
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Problems with the placenta, like placental abruption and placenta previa. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Placental abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. Placenta previa is when the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is smoke you breathe in from someone else’s cigarette, cigar or pipe. Being around secondhand smoke during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born with low birthweight.

Secondhand smoke also is dangerous to your baby after birth. Babies who are around secondhand smoke are more likely than babies who aren’t to have health problems, like pneumonia, ear infections and breathing problems, like asthma, bronchitis and lung problems. They’re also more likely to die of SIDS.

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is what’s left behind from cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke. It can include lead, arsenic and carbon monoxide. It’s what you smell on things like clothes, furniture, carpet, walls and hair that’s been in or around smoke. Thirdhand smoke is why opening a window or smoking in another room isn’t enough to protect others when you smoke.

If you’re pregnant or a new mom, stay away from thirdhand smoke. Babies who breathe in thirdhand smoke may have serious health problems, like asthma and other breathing problems, learning problems and cancer.

Is it safe to use e-cigarettes during pregnancy?

Electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes or e-cigs) look like regular cigarettes. But instead of lighting them, they run on batteries. E-cigarettes contain liquid that includes nicotine, flavors (like cherry or bubble gum) and other chemicals. When you use an e-cigarette, you puff on a mouthpiece to heat up the liquid and create a mist (also called vapor) that you inhale. Using an e-cigarette is called vaping.

More research is needed to better understand how e-cigarettes may affect women and babies during pregnancy. Some studies show that e-cigarette vapor may contain some of the harmful chemicals that are found in regular cigarettes. Flavors and other chemicals used in e-cigarettes also may be harmful to a developing baby. If you’re pregnant and using e-cigarettes or thinking about using them, talk to your health care provider.

Just like regular cigarettes, you can become addicted to e-cigarettes. If you drink, sniff or touch the liquid in e-cigarettes, it can cause nicotine poisoning. Signs or symptoms of nicotine poison include feeling weak, having breathing problems, nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting. Nicotine poisoning can be deadly. Liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes comes in different flavors and is sold in small tubes that may be bright and colorful. This may make e-cigarettes seem fun and appealing, especially to children.

For help to reduce or stop smoking

Call the Florida Quitline: 800-784-8669

or visit the Florida Department of Health at