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Monday, 20 December, 1999, 06:04 GMT
Quitting smoking 'harder for women'

woman smoking Women have worse withdrawal symptoms, say researchers


Women find it harder to quit smoking than men and suffer worse withdrawal symptoms, say researchers.

They claim this may be due to the fact that women take smaller, shorter puffs when smoking and get greater withdrawal relief from cigarettes.

A study led by Thomas Eissenberg, of Virginia Commonwealth University, at Richmond in the US, tested the reaction of 38 men and 30 women to giving up smoking.

They were asked to rate their desire to smoke, their cravings for a cigarette and their withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness and difficulty concentrating.



One reason that women may have more difficulty quitting smoking than men may be that current treatments have not emphasised the importance of the withdrawal relief that a cigarette provides the smoker
Dr Thomas Eissenberg
The volunteers smoked through a machine that measured the size, number, duration and time between puffs. Their heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature were also measured.

After each cigarette, women experienced significantly greater decreases in their desire to smoke compared to the men. And their withdrawal symptoms were more greatly reduced.

But there was little difference in the physiological factors such as heart rate.

"One reason that women may have more difficulty quitting smoking than men may be that current treatments have not emphasised the importance of the withdrawal relief that a cigarette provides the smoker," said Dr Eissenberg.

Shorter puffs

"The fact that women take smaller and shorter puffs than men may also mean that women take in less nicotine and are therefore less dependent on it.

"If women are less dependent on nicotine, effective treatment for women smokers may need to focus on factors in addition to nicotine addiction."

A report in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research concludes that offering nicotine replacement treatment, often in the form of patches or chewing gum, is still a good first step for treatment.

But more research into the factors which cause withdrawal relief for smokers, and in particular women, were needed.

"These findings suggest that treatment providers may need to work even harder to identify what a cigarette provides for each individual smoker who comes in for treatment," added Dr Eissenberg.

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See also:
01 Dec 99 |  Health
Stopping smoking `may not prevent cancer'
03 Nov 99 |  Health
Depressed smokers 'need drugs to quit'
10 Dec 99 |  Health
100m to stamp out smoking
17 Jun 99 |  Health
UK stubs out tobacco ads
16 Dec 99 |  Health
Tobacco ad ban legal, says court

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