Gender and Smoking: Do Women Really Find it Harder to Give Up?

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Data are cited from national surveys of smoking in Great Britain and the United States which challenge the widely held belief that women find it harder to give up smoking than men. Men have higher cigarette cessation rates than women, but when smoking and ex-smoking prevalences are adjusted to take account of switching to cigars, which in ex-cigarette smokers appears to be an equally hazardous and addictive form of tobacco use, the sex difference in cessation is almost eliminated. In Great Britain in 1982 the cigarette cessation rates of 44 per cent in men and 32 per cent in women became 37 and 32 per cent respectively after adjustment for secondary cigar smoking, and there was no difference in adjusted cessation between men and women below the age of 50 (26 per cent in each case). Similarly in the U.S. in 1975 the male excess of 9 percentage points in cigarette cessation reduced to 3 per cent after adjustment. Allowance for secondary pipe smoking, tobacco chewing and snuff taking would probably reduce this difference still further. It is concluded that there is at present little evidence of a sex difference in ease of smoking cessation in the general populaton and it is recommended that future discussions of this issue should take into account forms of tobacco use other than cigarettes

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  • Martin Jarvis

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