Women Who Smoke Like Men Die Like Men: The Difference is Why They Start and How They Stop

Smoking is a serious addiction. The author of a recently published scientific study states “women who smoke like men, die like men”. What does this mean? It means if women start smoking and continue to smoke past 40, their risk of dying from a tobacco related illness is much like men and as high as 50%!

Why people start smoking and how they stop  is where the gender differences come in. 

More teenage girls than boys smoke cigarettes. Teen girls who start smoking list peer pressure and curiosity as primary reasons to start smoking. I tried smoking at age 12 because my cousin wanted me to. 3 puffs later and I didn’t think smoking was that big a deal. Boys tend to start smoking because it makes them feel independent and more vigorous. Women are more likely to be influenced by peers, family and the media than are males. Remember the Virginia Slims ad – “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby”? The media portrays smoking as something that beautiful and independent women would do and girls are more influenced by this messaging.

When I was an intern at an engineering firm at age 19 I revisited smoking.  I tried again because I was stressed out and my colleagues told me a cigarette after work would relax me. (Science has now shown that nicotine helps calm women while inducing more aggression in men) Well, I tried smoking for two weeks but nothing happened -- no stress relief.  So smoking, like all addictions, has a genetic component – in the end, I wasn’t wired to be a smoker.

For those who are disposed to smoke, there are differences of how men and women stop smoking too.  Women are more likely to respond to a support group setting, and less likely to respond to the nicotine patch. I cannot locate any gender differences data on Chantix - the smoking cessation drug. Wellbutrin (Zyban ®) is fairly equal in effectiveness between men and women. What does this mean? To tell a woman to quit smoking and slap on a nicotine patch is less likely to be successful than if you say the same thing to her husband.  Women are more likely to continue smoking because of social interactions and fear of weight gain than are men.

While many of the dangers of smoking cross gender lines, men and women smokers face some unique risks. Male smokers may experience a decline in sexual potency and fertility. Female smokers have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,particularly if they are taking oral contraceptives, and they also risk early menopause, cervical cancer, bone fractures, and reproductive difficulties.  (excerpted from www.everydayhealth.com/smoking-cessation)

What areyour triggers for smoking? Figure out what they are and how to avoid or deal with them.  Man or woman - smoking is a deadly habit.

<< Go back to the previous page