Swiss to vote on total ban on smoking in enclosed public places. Reuters

A new study has found that higher taxes on tobacco products and smoke-free policies have helped pregnant women to reduce smoking.

Researchers from the Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluated smoking bans and taxes on cigarettes, along with the level of tobacco control spending. They found that state tobacco control policies were effective in curbing smoking during pregnancy, and in preventing a return to smoking within four months on average, after delivery.

"We know from prior research that nearly one-fourth of all women in the United States enter pregnancy as smokers and more than half continue to smoke while they are pregnant which results in excessive healthcare costs at birth and beyond," said Kathleen Adams, associate professor in the department of health policy and management at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, in a statement.

"This is one of the first studies of pregnant women's smoking in the new era of more restrictive state tobacco control policies, and we found a sizable increase in the quit rate. In addition, tax policies appear to be effective in keeping these women from relapsing in the first few months postpartum, and the implementation of a full workplace smoke-free policy also increases quits," said Sara Markowitz, associate professor of economics at Emory University.

Researchers examined cigarette smoking among 225,445 women from 2000-2005 in the US. They found that a $1 increase in taxes and prices increases the probability of quitting by the last three months of pregnancy by 4.8 percentage points - from 44.1 to 48.9 percent.

The probability of having sustained nonsmoking four months after delivery is increased by 4.2 percentage points or from 21.3 to 25.5 percent, with a $1 increase in real taxes. A full ban on smoking at private worksites increased the probability of quitting smoking during pregnancy by 4-5 percentage points.

"Insignificant results on tobacco control spending may indicate that such spending needs to reach a minimum threshold as recommended by the CDC,"said Adams.

"If additional tobacco tax revenues were used by states to support implementation of smoke-free and other effective policies, then tax policy could have additional effects on prevalence of smoking and in turn, help improve birth outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs at delivery," Adams concluded.