Implementing e-cigarettes as an alternate smoking cessation tool during pregnancy: A process evaluation in two UK sites

Eleanor Lutman-White, Riya Patel, Deborah Lycett, Kelly Hayward, Ruth Sampson, Janani Arulrajah, Maxine Whelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse maternal and foetal health outcomes, with effective smoking cessation support important. E-cigarette use in the general population has increased rapidly in recent years, with their use viewed as an alternate, additional offer to nicotine replacement therapy and behavioural support. However, their use in pregnancy has limited investigation. This study aimed to understand how two e-cigarette pilots for pregnant women were delivered and implemented. Referrals to the general stop smoking in pregnancy service, as well as pilot enrolment, engagement and outcomes were recorded. Seven professionals involved in pilot 2 design, setup and/or delivery took part in semi-structured interviews informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Transcripts were deductively coded into CFIR. In total, 124 of 296 women accessed at least one visit after being contacted and offered the e-cigarette pilot (Pilot 1: n=99, Pilot 2: n=25). In Pilot 2, 13 (of 25) reached 4 weeks and common reasons for withdrawal by 12 weeks included relapse, loss of contact, and no further support wanted. Forty-five (36.3%) validated quits were reported (Pilot 1: 32 of 99 (32.3%); Pilot 2: 13 of 25 (52%)). Facilitators included regular communication, and the advisors physically taking e-cigarettes to home visits. Barriers included misalignment between the pilot and the standard treatment offer and availability of staff resource. Enrolment to both pilots were demonstrated, with greater enrolment in one pilot and notable quit rates among women across both pilots. The perceived role of e-cigarettes for pregnant women varied and a lack of staff resource explained some challenges. Adaptations may be needed during scale up, including additional resource and alignment of e-cigarette provision to standard treatment
Original languageEnglish
Article number291
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


Pilots were funded by the Local Maternity Service and local maternity and neonatal system (pilot 1) and Coventry & Warwickshire Local Maternity and Neonatal System (pilot 2). A service evaluation of pilot 1 was completed on behalf of the Bath & Northeast Somerset Public Health Team. Coventry University was commissioned to evaluate pilot 2 and worked collaboratively with pilot 1 colleagues to bring together the two pilots into a single process evaluation.


  • Implementation
  • process evaluation
  • smoking cessation
  • pregnancy


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