General Question

jlm11f's avatar

Would you confront a pregnant woman that is smoking?

Asked by jlm11f (12353points) February 11th, 2009

You are in a public place, you see a clearly pregnant woman smoking. Do you mind your own business and continue about your day or do you go talk to her about it? And what is your reasoning behind your decision? How far does a human’s responsibility go?

Caution: this is not a pro-choice vs. anti-choice argument. She is not aborting the fetus. But smoking can cause serious abnormalities to the baby.

Last part of the question is a poll – Are you pro-choice or anti-choice? Like I said before, this has nothing to do with the title question, I just want to see whether there is any correlation to your answers and to your opinion about abortion. You do not need to explain this opinion, though feel free to if you want to.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

101 Answers

cdwccrn's avatar

No. It’s too late for the baby and potentially dangerous.

Dog's avatar

Anyone who has not been in a coma over the last 2 decades knows what smoking can do. It is not illegal just unwise.

I would not take it upon myself to lecture her. Yes- it is unfortunate but there are a lot of lousey parents out there.

cheebdragon's avatar

No, because there were a couple of times during my pregnancy that I was so stressed out, I had to smoke a cigarette. Who am I to judge…..

Thegary's avatar

You bet your ass I would confront her. There’s a clearly written label on the pack that specifically mentions the danger of smoking while pregnant. Perhaps she can not help it, though. Perhaps, like many people, she needs a cigarette when she’s doing shots.

And, yes, I am pro-choice.

blondie411's avatar

I’m sure it won’t be her last cigarette unfortunately if you do confront her…

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I’m not one for confrontations with a stranger, so no, I wouldn’t say anything. I’d just stare at her until she noticed my disgusted look.

cheebdragon's avatar

Confronting her will only make her want to smoke another cigarette. Anti-smoking commercials are a joke.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I would not confront her. No matter how preggers someone looks, unless I personally know they are expecting, I’m not about to bring it up. If I personally know she is expecting and I see her smoking, I might say something because at that point we’re close enough that I might have some right to yell at her for doing something silly.

I’m pro-choice.

Aethelwine's avatar

I wouldn’t confront her. It would drive me bonkers though to not say anything. I smoked for years, and understand the addiction, but when I was pregnant I didn’t touch the things. When my mother was pregnant with me, she smoked at least a pack a day. This was the early 70s before we knew how bad it is for you. I have had to deal with a low immune system my entire life because of it.


dynamicduo's avatar

No, I wouldn’t confront her. What she chooses to do with her life is her own business. I am not anyone’s nanny as I certainly will not accept anyone nannying me, the golden rule strikes again. Furthermore, it’s obvious based on the fact that she’s smoking while pregnant that this person is pretty stupid, and I do my best to avoid unnecessary contact with stupid people.


cak's avatar

I would want to confront her; however, like EmpressPixie, I would never assume she was truly pregnant. I’ve had a friend approached (not because she was smoking) and congratulated on her pregnancy – she had just lost the baby, a week before and still had that pregnant look.

I would love to say something, but I don’t think it would make a difference. My vice was caffeine, I gave it up, cold turkey. It was miserable, but I don’t think it compares, at all, to smoking. I just don’t understand why women, while pregnant, don’t try to do the best for their baby.

I’m Pro-choice.

adri027's avatar

I’d confront her and replace it with the cigarette bubble gum. She can puff on those all day.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I doubt I would say anything, unless she started talking to me about something else… such as asking me for directions somewhere… I’d give the directions and then say something like “ya know, smoking isn’t just bad for you and everyone around you, but also your child too”. And I’d leave it at that. But if she said nothing to me at all, I’d just do what jbfletcherfan did, just give a disgusted look and stare.

I’m pro choice, but I think that an abortion should only be used under the most extreme scenarios and as a last choice. Simply aborting a child because he/she is unwanted is insane, I know there is a family out there that would accept him/her.

tb1570's avatar

No, would not confront her, and I think people who answer that they would confront her do not think about the possible consequeces of their actions. A situation like this, where we know absolutely nothing about the woman, could easily escalate in to a physically violent confrontation. I know if I was a pregnant woman and I was smoking (and in this day & age, everyone knows it’s wrong) and some uppity little bitch/douchebag came up to me and started judging me/preaching to me, I’d have half a mind to clock her/him one! And then who looks like the ass? You can bet your bottom dollar, very few on-lookers are gonna side w/ the person fighting against a pregnant lady, regardless of the reasons!

Mizuki's avatar

I would say confronting her would be for you, not her. So if it makes you feel better go for it. don’t expect any change in behavior from you, as you initiate a confrontational situation. There is no cure for stupid.

marinelife's avatar

Where does this slippery slope end? Do you then confront someone in a fast food restaurant line? Is this not the same as judging someone using food stamps based on what is in their cart? What about confronting a college student seen in a leisure activity or environment because they are “wasting their parents money and the money of others” instead of studying?

Also, what about men who don’t need an erectile disfunction drug, but are using it for pleasure? That can cause serious medical complications.

People need to take all the time they are spending on others’ business and tend to their own.

When you see someone out in public doing one activity, you have no idea of the context as cheebdragon said. You do not have enough information to confront someone.

Finally, while smoking is ill-advised for pregnant women or anyone, several generations of human beings made it into the world and to adulthood with their mothers smoking like chimneys and drinking. Is that a good thing? No. Does it excuse it now that we know better? No. Does that mean we should either legislate it or all take it on ourselves to be the moral police? Emphatically no.

Would that the same level of social concern existed for all the children being physically and mentally and sexually abused every day in this country and the world as it does for the unborn.

Yes, I am pro choice.

Here is a survey for you, PnL. I think it would be interesting to see how the yes confront and no do not confront breaks down on gender lines. Why do I postulate that it is men who want to be tellin’ the women what to do the most?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

life is about choice. We all should be wise enough to draw our own conclusions about what choices we make. I feel that if I can make my own choices responsibly, then so can every other adult, pregnant or not.

I’m sick and tired of people telling me their views on behavior they do not approve of. As long as I am not breaking the law, people should just mind their own goddamn business about my behavior. Should someone give me grief about my cigarette, I might decide to put my cigarette out in their eye. Of course that would be assault. “But maybe the fucker had it coming, officer.”

Next thing you know, some do-gooder is going to get up on their moral high horse and have laws passed that prohibit EVERYTHING that gives us pleasure.

And just for your information, the recent anti-smoking rules passed have no basis in REAL scientific studies, and the results were skewed by the folks that were behind the laws recently passed. Want to learn more, go here

tb1570's avatar

@Marina I agreed w/ you completely right up to your sexist comment at the end of your post. There we part company on this one. And, in fact, if I had to postulate, I would come in on the complete opposite of your hypothesis: It seems to me that women enjoy judging other women more than men do.

Lastly, exactly @evelyns_pet_zebra .

poofandmook's avatar

No. It’s none of your business if she’s smoking. Sure, it seems like it might be some friendly advice, but really it’s completely self-righteous. I was the product of a smoking mother, and so was my sister, and we both came out perfectly healthy. My grandmother and her sister and brother were products of my smoking great-grandmother, before they really knew cigarettes were harmful to fetuses, and THEY were all born perfectly healthy.

And I totally agree with tb1570. I’d have to pick my jaw up off the floor if I saw a man confront a smoking pregnant woman. However, if I saw a woman do it, while I might be a little disgusted at her lack of couth, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I would absolutely not say anything to her! It is preposterous that so many people would confront someone they don’t know about this. @Marina and @evelyns_pet_zebra nailed it absolutely.

Women do all sorts of things that could potentially harm the fetus. Would you go up to a pregnant woman carrying something heavy and tell her that such physical exertion could harm the baby? Would you go up to a pregnant woman in 3 inch heels and tell her she should take those shoes off because they could make her unstable and she could fall and hurt the baby? Would you go up to a pregant woman in the driver’s seat of a car and tell her she shouldn’t drive because she could get into an accident? no, of course you wouldn’t. My mother smoked when she was pregnant with me and I am one of the healthiest people I know. My grandmother smoked when she was pregnant with my mother and each of her sisters and they are healthy.

Pro choice.

seekingwolf's avatar

No, I wouldn’t. It’s none of my darn business. I mean, it’s her baby, it’s her life. If she wants to ruin her lungs all while putting the baby at risk for serious defects…that’s her choice. She’ll have to pay the hospital bills and deal with the pain.

In this day and age, I wouldn’t feel the least bit bad for her. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, EVERYONE knows the risks of smoking, especially for mothers. It’s just stupid.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@seekingwolf: everyone knows the risk of a lot of other destructive behaviors as well but how many of them are on trial constantly?

seekingwolf's avatar


Let’s face it, some people are just stupid. They either skew the stats and think “oh that won’t happen to me”, think the rules don’t apply to them, or just in denial of TRUE facts and refuse to hear.

People like that shouldn’t be having kids. :(

Judi's avatar

I live in California and you have to run off to a leper colony to smoke here. The beaches are even no smoking so you rarely see people smoking here anymore. I wouldn’t say anything to the woman. She already knows the truth and her addiction is just to strong. My guess is that she probably has enough other problems to deal with as most smokers are low income already and in this environment things are pretty tough. I hate abortion but when push comes to shove I leave that decision to the woman. It’s not my place to belittle that excruciating decision.

tinyfaery's avatar

Nope. Not my business.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I like how people assume that “EVERYONE knows X is wrong, so if you do X, you are stupid.”

Just because something is deemed wrong by the majority, it must be true. That’s crazy. EVERYONE knows that (supposedly) that spiders bite people all the time, when actually, there is no verifiable evidence for it. House spiders rarely bite people, despite what everyone believes. If you didn’t see the spider that bit you, how do you know one did? Maybe it was a house fairy, they have a tendency to nibble on folks at night, you know.

To Hell with the majority knowing the best thing for me and everyone else, I’ll find the truth on my own. Here in America, the majority are Christians, so that would lead to the fact that EVERYONE knows Jesus is real, and if you are an atheist, then you are stupid for not believing in that particular deity.

Herd mentality is just that, following the herd without knowing the facts. And I am not pro-choice, but I am pro-intelligence. I think stupidity is criminal and should also be painful.

dalepetrie's avatar

No, because

#1 – I’m not a confrontational person

#2 – I don’t like it, but I don’t have to, it’s a free country and as such her choice

#3 – It’s not like she’s not aware that smoking is bad for her baby, she’s an addict, and I’d bet you everything I own that no one has EVER been shamed out of an addiction by being chastised by a stranger…not gonna work

#4 – I do plenty of things I really shouldn’t do, and I would resent it if the tables were turned and someone I didn’t know came up to me and criticized my behavior, I’d be deeply offended, I would get defensive and I would probably want to do the offending behavior even more just to spite the person, even if they were “right”, that’s human nature.

#5 – Never underestimate an addict’s power of self dillusion. My sister in law is a former smoker, she quit a couple months before her baby was born. She claimed (and if this is true, this Dr. should be kicked out of the profession), that she kept smoking because the doctor told her it would be too traumatic for the baby for her to quit cold turkey. She weaned herself off the cigarettes, it was hard, but she does have a healthy, happy baby now. Strange thing is, she is the most phobic person I’ve ever met, and since she’s had a baby it’s gotten MUCH worse. She won’t even let 99% of the people she knows HOLD her baby. She is compulsively clean to the point where she will throw away something perfectly functional if she’s afraid it’s not clean enough to be in the same room with her baby. Yet, she was able to justify a close to one pack a day habit up until she was about 7 months pregnant. My wife, and I, and her husband and her brother and her mother and I’m sure a number of other people DID confront her. She knew it was bad, it was against her own nature, but she couldn’t quit. I’m quite sure her eventual quitting was not a result of a stranger chastising her.

Bottom line no, it would be pointless, and dare I say, self-important to think you would be doing anything other than provoking a fight with a stranger. If you’re a fan of having a cigarette put out on your face, go right ahead…me, I’m keeping my mouth shut.

And I am pro choice.

cheebdragon's avatar

@Evelyn- i call them Sheeple

poofandmook's avatar

@seekingwolf: You’re saying I, my sister, my grandmother, never should’ve been born?

TaoSan's avatar

Part 1:

I’d certainly have a “misgiving” look, a snort or grunt, or even a tsktsktsk for her. More, like confronting her will be useless. If you’re ignorant enough to smoke while pregnant such confrontation will only cause hostility.

Part 2:

I am absolutely pro-choice, as long as the legislature implements supervised counseling requirements, ensuring no “pop and get rid of it” abortions will be possible.

on the lighter side, what if she isn’t pregnant, only fat? Sorry, had to snark a bit :)

onesecondregrets's avatar

If it were someone I knew well enough to voice my opinion concerning matters of their life, absolutely. Anyone less than that? I don’t believe I’d have the right to pass judgment on their actions no matter how wrong.

Mizuki's avatar

Judi, I thought you were in TX?

GAMBIT's avatar

I’m really not sure how I would approach her, “excuse me Miss but I can tell your pregnant? Are you aware of what you are doing to your unborn child”? I’m sure she would tell me where I could go and how fast she would like to put me there.

Maybe if I were a doctor I could say “excuse me Madam but as a qualified physician I encourage you to put down the cancer sticks and be more responsible to the new born life you are carrying”. Still I think she would tell me to “take a hike doc and save the speech for your own patients”.

Judi's avatar

@Mizuki; must have me confused with someone else, although I have a brother in Texas.

Judi's avatar

When I was pregnant (in the 1980’s) I had a pediatrician tell me that I should wear a mask while buffing the floors in the hospital where I worked. I didn’t take offense but I still remember it.

Snoopy's avatar

I don’t smoke and I don’t like smoking.

However I would never tell a stranger who appeared to be pregnant and was smoking that she should put out her cigarette…..

It is simply none of my business.


Nimis's avatar

Yes, it’s none of my business. But if I actually felt that anything that I said would make a difference,
I would do it anyway. However, I doubt that much could be done in this situation.
I’m sure she is well aware of the consequences and smoking in spite of it.
Confronting her on this issue would only be futile and self-serving.


Thegary's avatar

I agree that confronting a pregnant woman who is smoking would be self serving. I do not want to pay the price when healthcare costs skyrocket because people are neglecting a defenseless unborn child. Maybe some of you would like to give the baby some Skoal to replace a pacifier? Shot of bourbon instead of warm milk in the bottle? is a futile joke. There is INDEED scientific data conducted by independent agencies conducted by world class researchers. I agree that smokers have been targeted (I have been a smoker since I was in elementary school), but I do not have a problem with it considering the outrageous costs in health care that it has produced.
If the woman decided to get into a physical confrontation, I doubt that all the onlookers would see me as the villan. Most people are a little more intelligent and don’t read rubbish like smokingaloud. I think that most would be as outraged as I am. And the fact that she decided to assault me would justify the fact that she could never be a fit parent. I mean if you can’t listen to a reasonable objection from someone who has your unborn child’s best interest at heart, it won’t be long before you put those cigarettes out on the infant.

No longer following this. The ignorance disgusts me.

Nimis's avatar

Since Thegary is no longer following, I guess I’m just talking to myself…

Even if you were to emerge triumphant from this showdown with a pregnant lady,
I highly doubt getting trounced by a stranger will really change her mind about anything.

It’s not about whether she is an unfit parent or not.
It’s whether you saying anything to her will actually change any of that.

I’ve confronted women about rear-facing baby seats in the front passenger seat.
That makes more sense to me because not everyone is aware of that.
Informing someone instead of just judging them is much more productive.

cookieman's avatar

Echoing what many have said, it is simply none of my business.

“Choice” means exactly that. It is smoker-mom’s choice to smoke as she so chooses – no matter how dumb of a choice it may be.

cprevite rule of life #42: You cannot change someone’s behavior.

tinyfaery's avatar

This is equivalent to telling people they are driving too fast with their kids in the car, or telling a mom that HFCS is bad for her kids. They are called “reproductive rights” for a reason. We have the right to do it, no matter what.

Oh, Pro-Choice obviously.

TaoSan's avatar

I wouldn’t mind making it “illegal” for pregnant women to smoke, with some hefty fine attached. After all it is a form of “child neglect”.

Before you flame me, mind you, I smoke 1.5 packs a day.

tinyfaery's avatar

Well let’s just put pregnant women in a safe house where we can monitor their every move, activity and choice. Oh wait, they made a book/movie about this: The Handmaid’s Tale. Didn’t work out so good.

TaoSan's avatar


It’s funny, if you were to go home with a newborn and subject it to a good amount of noxious fumes, the child would be gone, you’d certainly face charges, and the whole thing would be an outrage.

What changes with “giving birth”? Isn’t the child a child before the umbilical is severed? Why so bitter?

wildflower's avatar

Nope. Nothing to do with social, political or religious views, but considering I smoke and have no kids, I doubt I’d have any credible argument to make a complete stranger change their ways….

poofandmook's avatar

@Tao: As far as the law is concerned, I believe it’s still the woman’s body as opposed to a child separate from the mother’s body.

TaoSan's avatar


That is the law right now that is correct. IMHO though, (and please read me right, I am pro choice) the parental responsibilities obviously begin at the time a woman is pregnant, and not only after giving birth.

Is it her body? Of course it is, does she harm a child “by proxy” if she smokes? She certainly does.

My general idea of acceptable human-human interaction is people can do whatever the heck they please , as long as they don’t harm another human being physically.

Unfortunately, amother-to-be smoking means another human being harmed.

Am I too simplistic on this one?

tinyfaery's avatar

What am I bitter about?

See my examples. If I live next to a factory, my baby breathes fumes. Am I liable for that as well. Fine me for being poor and living in a shit hole? Where does it end?

TaoSan's avatar


a) I mentioned bitter because I felt that responding to the idea to prohibit a “harmful” act being countered/likened to internment seemed a bit extreme.

b) Your example fails in that being too poor to move away from an “unhealthy” environment is certainly not equal to deciding to consume intoxicants. Not really anything you can do if you can’t afford to move away, you can certainly quit smoking though.


I am aware though that it is a slippery slope

Nimis's avatar

@TaoSan I guess if you liken it to fines for not buckling up your kids in the car,
it kind of makes sense. But it’s a slippery slope. Not to mention there will be
a lot of livid overweight women smokers clocking cops trying to fine them.

TaoSan's avatar


Something to that effect was roughly what I had in mind. Haven’t finished the thought yet :)

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t agree with the buckle up laws either. Our government has no right to “save us from ourselves”. If we die, we die. If we harm our kids, through whatever mwthods, then so be it. The kids can get us all back when they turn 18.

TaoSan's avatar

If we harm our kids, through whatever mwthods, then so be it. The kids can get us all back when they turn 18

Wow, no comment

Maybe one, why don’t we send them back to the coalmines…

Nimis's avatar

I think it’s interesting how this question ties in
with the whole pro-choice or pro-life thing.

A mother can be fined for not buckling in her born child.
But a mother is not fined for smoking with an unborn child.


I think it is her body and her choice.
But once she chooses to bring it to term,
it should be protected as much as a born child.

I say give them as much information as possible,
but the rest is still really up to them.

Okay, NOW I’m backing away slowly from this debate.

poofandmook's avatar

@Tiny, I have to ask you about the last thing you said about parents harming their kids… I hope you’re not lumping physical/sexual abuse or other things like starvation/neglect, etc. in there…?

TaoSan's avatar


This is a bit off topic, but noteworthy. I’m originally from Germany, and there is one peculiar thing about legislation in America.

We have some of the most ridiculous laws in the world. Florida has a law against parking elephants in public parking lots, Alabama has a law against wearing a fake mustache in church, California has a law prohibiting animals from mating within 1500 feet from a tavern, school or place of worship.

Yet when it comes to the common sense stuff, the debate is endless. Hell yeah fine smoking mothers, use the fine money to cover the health care costs incurred to society as a whole because of this reckless behavior, because one thing is sure, I strongly doubt some knocked-up trailer trash chick smoking it up at the bus stop while highly pregnant will immediately after giving birth go about getting a nice low-deductible PPO for the child.

Nimis's avatar

@TaoSan It is because none of those laws are attempting
to legislate what one chooses to do with one’s own body.

It’s an understandably touchy subject.

TaoSan's avatar


Then I vouch to be allowed to drive drunk again, because I’m doing it to MY own body, and from now on I want to smoke in restaurants again, because I do that to MY body too.
And I want to be allowed to stand right next to a pregnant woman and light up, because I do it to MY body.

Same logic, no?

EmpressPixie's avatar

@TaoSan No. We don’t allow you to infringe on others either. Driving drunk infringes on my right to a safe road. Smoking infringes on my right to clean air. Simply put, we do not legally consider the little creature in a pregnant woman to have those rights yet. They are not afforded the rights of human beings until they slip out.

Nimis's avatar

@TaoSan Sort of, but not exactly. All of your examples puts others at risk.
The grey area we’re wandering into is how much rights does an unborn child have?

TaoSan's avatar

@EmpressPixie and @Nimis

Regrettably, that is the legal status quo indeed, no doubt.

But what about the burden on an already defunct health-care system? Doesn’t it harm me if I pay insurance rates that are through the roof because some people are extremely stupid?

And Nimis, you’re right, this really is wandering off and invites a separate question, when does/should an unborn child have rights/protection?

Nimis's avatar

@TaoSan Silly example. The law is not there to protect you from high insurance rates.

TaoSan's avatar


Not really, despite what many believe, we do have a public healthcare system, financed by tax money, people burdening this system by unnecessarily using up resources definitely fall into the public domain and applicable laws.

Further, there are many laws protecting me from “financial harm”, why is this different?

Nimis's avatar

@TaoSan I think this is slipping back into that question about the lady with the octuplets.
I agree that there should be laws in place to minimize the burden of tax payers.
But these laws should not infringe on an individual’s rights.

For instance, I think there should be a certain cut off point where the woman cannot apply for government help indefinitely. But she should still have the right to choose to have more kids or not (whether I agree with her choices or not).

Should I start putting things in whisper? We’ve kind of tangented from the question.

cheebdragon's avatar

People do things that are bad for them on a daily basis. There are dangerous chemicals in everything.

TaoSan's avatar


I think we’re wandering off from the OQ too much, but this whole thread is touching on many parallel issues that would last for a year to discuss :)

Still, considering the input from the thread, and going back to the original idea, yeah, I would be a proponent of “fining” intoxication while pregnant. In my understanding of the law, the infringement on the right of the individual would be outweighed by the harm done to the unborn child, and the potential burden on society as a whole.

We make this kind of compromise so very often, this time it would at least benefit someone worthy protecting.

Oh, and one last thing just came to mind. Since so many corporations get sued for having caused “birth defects”, will these children be able to sue their mothers too?

KatawaGrey's avatar

I’m just going to stick in my opinion (even though I’ve already done so). Does excessive smoking harm an unborn fetus? Probably, I don’t know because I’m not a qualified doctor and I’m guessing nobody else on this thread is either. Do women do/consume things that are bad for the fetus and for themselves? Maybe. Remember, if humans were that fragile that smoking while pregnant killed them, then chances are other things would kill an unborn fetus pretty damn easily as well and the whole human race would have died off.

Also, if we’re only worried about the health of the fetus, then perhaps we should limit what sperm women choose to impregnate themselves with (whether through sex, artificial insemination or some other technique) because that can determine a fetus’ survival. If a woman with B- blood is impregnated by a man with B+ blood and the fetus has B+ blood, then the mother’s body would reject the fetus and try to destroy it. What about recessive genes? Hell, if smoking is bad for a fetus, imagine how bad it would be if it got two recessive alleles for some awful disease! Let’s limit who people can breed with, shall we?

The area is a dicey one at best. Women are designed to be pregnant. The state is not as fragile as everyone seems to think or else predators would have killed off all the pregnant humans a long time ago.

Nimis's avatar

I can see both sides of the issue.
But the tie-breaker is that I’d rather not have any legislation
in this grey area that might favour the pro-life movement.

Regardless of where I might stand on the details,
ultimately, I support a woman’s right to her own body.

I think I’m all threaded out.

gimmedat's avatar

No, I’m not the tobacco or pregnancy wellness police.


jlm11f's avatar

Whew I just read through all those quips. I wrote this question in the morning and have only returned to it right now. First and foremost, I would like to thank all of you for your insightful quips, for stating your case, defending it well and above all, still managing to respect those that disagree from you. Reading your quips helped me think about things in different perspectives.

I noticed a couple of you addressed the question as what I should do. So just to make it clear, and I am sorry if you thought otherwise this situation was hypothetical. In pathology, we recently learned about how tobacco is a teratogenic substance, which means it can cross the placenta to the fetus. This is how it harmfully affects the fetus, and this is not speculation, it’s a fact. Our professor mentioned seeing a mother in a grocery store take a pacifier that her baby had dropped on the floor and put it back in the baby’s mouth. This, of course, is a no-no and she told us how she wanted to tell her so but refrained. That’s how I came up with this situation, a pregnant woman smoking instead of the pacifier example.

Some other loose ends:

- Some people mentioned “she might just be fat”, this is of course a possibility, but for this story, I was assuming she is very clearly and unmistakeably if that’s possible? pregnant.

- The poll. My hypothesis was that pro-choice people would be less likely to confront the woman. This stands neither supported or rejected, since everyone who did answer the poll seem to be pro-choice.

@Marina – I agree with @tb1570 that women would probably be more likely to confront than men. If not for anything else, just because a man might feel it’s not his place since he could never really know what being pregnant feels like.

@cprevite – “cprevite rule of life #42: You cannot change someone’s behavior.” I agree completely.

My opinion – Firstly, I don’t think either side is “right” or “wrong.” Confront, or not, is probably just a outcome of our individual personalities more than anything else. So I don’t think either option would be wrong. It’s true that it could be seen as judgmental, but I also feel it could also be seen as just being concerned. It is probably harder for science-related professionals just because they know exactly what is happening and what are the likely outcomes etc. And if you choose not to confront, doesn’t mean you care any less, it means you think it is something past your civic duty or you just think it won’t matter anyway. I agree with those that say that a stranger coming up and saying “that’s not good for your baby” is not going to make the woman have a epiphany and say “by god, you are right! I must quit right now!” In fact, as some of you said, it will probably drive her to smoke more just to piss you off. So I personally would not confront the woman. Plus, pregnant woman are scary ;)

Oh, and I am pro-choice.

To new readers – please feel free to still answer the question, we can add your opinion to the unscientific survey :)

cheebdragon's avatar

Pregnant women are very scary, I would rather fight a large rabid dog.

tinyfaery's avatar

No, I’m talking about smoking around the kids, making them play outside in 30 degree weather, etc. Parents harm their children in so many ways. May I remind you that I worked as a counselor and a case worker for children and adolescents for almost 6 years. If we fine every parent for doing something potentially harmful to their child, or even worse, take them away, the children will not fare any better. I’ve seen so many young people who would have gladly stayed around a smoking parent or a parent who did not use a car seat rather than be funneled through foster homes and group homes their whole lives. If someone thinks I was talking about abuse, then they do not know me and/or are an idiot.

poofandmook's avatar

@tinyfaery: I am not an idiot. You said “if we harm our kids through whatever methods, then so be it.” Don’t fling insults because you didn’t word your thought precisely enough.

TaoSan's avatar


given the nature of this site I obviously don’t know you. Guess that makes me an idiot then.

tinyfaery's avatar

People know me. You, not. Poof, though I thought she did, also does not. August is going to get pissed right now. But I bet she knows me.

poofandmook's avatar

@tiny: I thought I did too. Until you added that “through whatever methods” part. I was clarifying, because it confused me.

Mizuki's avatar

This sounds like an attempt to Moderate the real world….

augustlan's avatar

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and speak from personal experience. I have been a smoker since I was 13 years old, and am very, very addicted. I’ve tried to quit several times, and each time I have not only failed, but have become murderous and/or suicidal in the process.

During my first pregnancy, I tried to quit the minute I found out I was pregnant. It became so stressful that I spoke with my (highly regarded) OB/GYN about it. He explained the risks to my unborn child (chiefly low birth weight and a predisposition to asthma later on). He then told me that good nutrition had a far bigger impact on birth weight. He ended by telling me he’d much rather I continued to smoke than kill myself (or stress myself so much during my pregnancy). I smoked through all 3 of my pregnancies, feeling like a horrible human being throughout. I have never been more of a social pariah than at that time.

On the other hand, I followed all other medical advice to the letter. I have kidney disease, thyroid disease, and developed gestational diabetes in my third pregnancy. Both thyroid disease and gestational diabetes have the potential to harm a child in the womb and afterwards. That meant an extremely restrictive diet with no salt, low protein, low carb, no caffiene and no artificial sweeteners. It also involved weekly sonograms and blood tests, stress tests, testing my blood sugar every 4 hours, checking my blood pressure at home, peeing in a cup every damn day, seeing a nutritionist, seeing a nephrologist regularly, and bed rest. All 3 pregnancies were induced early as well. Not an easy road to follow at all.

As you can see, it was not a matter of not caring about what I was doing to my unborn child. If that was the case, why would I have bothered to follow all that other advice? I clearly know that smoking is bad for me, bad for my children, and bad for an unborn child. I would also like to believe than I am not an idiot, or an unfeeling, stupid, selfish person. I am an addict. Should I have not had children? Perhaps we should ask them. All 3 are happy, healthy and bright. Would they rather have not been born in order to be protected from me? I kind of doubt it.

To make a long story marginally shorter, you have no idea what is going on in a stranger’s life or mind. You can be sure that they know the risks. Confronting them serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

augustlan's avatar

Also, [mod says]: Let’s refrain from name calling, jellies.

tinyfaery's avatar

I did not call anyone specific any names.

And, oooh, august, you should be fined an your children should be taken away, or should have been. You are evil and must be destroyed. ~

augustlan's avatar

Stupid and evil, thankyouverymuch. ~

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s me. ;)

TaoSan's avatar


~I think you should take 50 lashes in public square, live a life in poverty, and be cast from society henceforth…..


evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

well, I see this has degenerated into a drama fest. The real point of the matter is, do we allow people to do as they please to themselves, or do we child proof the world in order to keep the young safe from their elders?

We have enough laws in this country, let’s enforce the ones we have before we go about making more laws. I still stand by my words up there, and should someone find a reason to disagree with me, that’s fine. You see, you are making a choice when you decide I am incorrect and feel disgust with this thread and leave. There were some great replies here, and I was sorry to see it go south there for a little while.

This was fun, but wow, it’s funny how vehement some people can get over a hypothetical situation. As for you, augustlan, you made your choices, you weren’t heartless or unfeeling towards your offspring, and you have three healthy happy kids. You succeeded in producing healthy happy kids. Some people, smokers or not, can’t even achieve that. You should be proud of yourself. I know I am and I admire your honesty here.

tb1570's avatar

@augustlan “you have no idea what is going on in a stranger’s life or mind.”


tb1570's avatar

Forget smoking, and let’s start worrying about the important things!!: “The plasticizer DEHP has been associated with smaller penis size. DEHP metabolites measured from the blood of pregnant women have been significantly associated with the decreased penis width, shorter anogenital distance, and the incomplete descent of testes of their newborn sons, replicating effects identified in animals.[60] Approximately 25% of US women have phthalate levels similar to those in the study.”

All joking aside, if our unborn children could really choose, which do you think they’d be more worried about: a little asthma, or pencil-dickitis? And 25% of US women is a MUCH higher statistic than women who smoke while pregnant!

The real moral is, as many have already stated, on questions like these regarding the rights of an un-born baby, where do we draw the line?

TaoSan's avatar


DrasticDreamer's avatar

I wouldn’t confront her, but I wouldn’t feel badly about giving her disapproving looks. I myself am a smoker, but I do not think smoking while you’re pregnant is acceptable.

I’m pro-choice. Always have been, always will be.

johnny0313x's avatar

I don’t think you should smoke when pregnant but I would not confront her, it is her life and her choice, I am sure she realizes the potential hazards and while it really isn’t fair to the baby, you or anyone else(aside from the father) should or can say anything about it.

cheebdragon's avatar

What is the point of giving someone a dirty look?? Who in the history of the world, has been swayed by a dirty look from some random stranger?
“Oh dear god…not a glare…the horror…”~

I have a feeling the only response your going to get is a middle finger directed at you.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

No one said anyone would be swayed by a dirty look. I was simply stating that I really couldn’t care less if a pregnant, smoking woman noted my disapproval. I wouldn’t try to hide how I felt, period. Just as, I’m sure, she couldn’t care less about my disapproval.

cheebdragon's avatar

Then why bother?? It just reminds me of people who scoff at the homeless.

TaoSan's avatar

homeless / smoking pregnant, I certainly don’t see any resemblance

Aethelwine's avatar

It’s not bothering, it’s just an instant reaction. Do we confront? No. Do we have feelings and show it? Yes.

I feel for the homeless, I don’t scoff at them

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@cheebdragon Exactly what jonsblond said. It’s an instant reaction, based on my own feelings about the matter. I wouldn’t do it to piss her off or to get a reaction out of her, but I couldn’t help it, either. If she noticed… Oh well.

TaoSan's avatar

It’s so funny, there’s been a lot of ragging now about the “personal freedom of the smoking pregnant woman”, what about the personal freedom to openly show discontent?

And PS,

being such a heavy smoker, what do I have to do to have people rally to my “right to smoke”? Seeing as I am a man I can’t get pregnant. (And would quit if I did by the way).

Snoopy's avatar

@TaoSan I rally around your right to smoke if you don’t do it near me/in public and I don’t have to pay (financially) for your poor health decisions.

(no offense).

TaoSan's avatar


Exactly the same way I reasoned about 10 quips ago, but because she is pregnant, all of this reasoning has been dismissed for the sake of “the rights of a pregnant woman to exercise control over her body”.

I think you had the same other thread in mind I did. Mind you, the “hypothetical” pregnant woman smokes in a public place. No one even touched that.

Snoopy's avatar

I am not sure I get your point.

I view the smoking woman or you smoking near me w/ equal irritation as far as my personal health is concerned. I find the smoking pregnant woman slightly more loathsome as she isn’t doing everything in her power to maximize the health of her baby.

All that being said, I wouldn’t say anything to either of you….I would simply exit your airspace. And vote in the affirmative for any laws banning smoking in public.

It is your right to smoke as long as it doesn’t impact me….it is my right to disapprove. And keep my unsolicited opinions to myself.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther