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Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 00:10 GMT


Women 'emotionally addicted to smoking'

Women smoke for different reasons than men

Women are more emotionally dependent on cigarettes than men, according to a report commissioned for No Smoking Day on Wednesday.

The research, which analyses the differences between the sexes on smoking, reveals that 48% of women smokers feel unable to cope without a cigarette.

This compares to just 35% of men.

In addition, 48% of women who smoke do so to give them confidence in social situations and 44% of female smokers regard smoking as their main source of pleasure.

[ image: Many men smoke while drinking]
Many men smoke while drinking
The majority of women smokers (61%) say they would find it difficult to go a whole day without a cigarette.

In contrast, men seem to express views on their smoking in more physical and personal terms.

More male (47%) than female smokers (39%) want to stop smoking to improve their health and twice as many men as women want to stop to improve their own fitness.

Men smoke higher-tar brands and more cigarettes per day.

Stress is often cited as an important barrier to stopping smoking, particularly among women.

For men, alcohol plays a large part, with three times as many men as women saying they relapsed while drinking alcohol.

Gender differences

Robert West, Professor of Psychology at St George's Hospital Medical School and one of the report authors, said: "What this report shows is that men and women smoke for different reasons and this impacts on their attempts to quit.

"Family pressures and worries about stress and weight gain are at the forefront of women's minds.

"Men seem more self-motivated, quitting for their health and more personal reaons, and making quit attempts on their own."

Doreen McIntyre, chief executive of No Smoking Day, said: "The findings suggest that cessation advice tailored to the differenct emotional and physical needs of men and women could help more smokers quit.

"Our advice to women is to get the emotional support they need to quit and to try and understand why they use cigarettes as props in social situations.

"Putting fears about weight gain into perspective and dispelling the myth that cigarettes relieve stress are also important."

Ms McIntyre said men should be aware that they did not have to go it alone if they wanted to quit, and that help was available.

Partners' pressure

The report also identified that women are more likely to want to quit for the sake of their family and children, or because of pregnancy.

For many women smokers (42%) the main source of pressure to quit comes from their children, whereas for men, pressure is most likely to be exerted by their partner.

No Smoking Day aims to help people who want to stop smoking.

Research shows that although two thirds of smokers want to quit, many need added support to help them succeed.

Each year more than one million people take part in No Smoking Day and an estimated 40,000 quit.

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