Gender Differences & Tobacco
Men and women are affected differently by tobacco use and tobacco messaging. Researching and understanding gender differences as it relates to tobacco use, tobacco-related health concerns, and quitting can help efforts in prevention and treatment for both men and women.
- Health. Tobacco leads to unique health threats for men and women: Men risk declines in fertility and sexual potency, and female smokers risk increased cardiovascular disease, in particular while using oral contraceptives, and higher rates of infertility, premature labor, low birth weight infants, cervical cancer, early menopause, and bone fractures.
Read about the Differences in Lung Cancer Risk Between Men and Women.
- Health care. In addition to differing in their risk for tobacco-related diseases, women and men have different experiences related to health screenings, and differ in their access to health care.
- Environmental factors. Women are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke, and are more easily addicted to nicotine than men. Find out more about the differing risk factors of men and women from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Psycho-social factors. Men and women may smoke for different reasons – women may smoke less for nicotine and more for reasons such as the sight or smell of smoke. Women also tend to smoke to “buffer” negative emotions, while men smoke from habit and for positive sensations.
- Quitting. Environmental factors such as depression, use of nicotine replacement therapies, and increased success of social support in women indicate that quitting approaches should be tailored to fit the unique needs of men and women. Withdrawal is different for women than men as well. Women report increased appetite and cravings, and often require a range of approaches to increase their success with quitting.
- Tobacco messaging: The tobacco industry uses comprehensive social research to understand how tobacco can promote its deadly messages in ways that will be most effective to both men and women. Smoking targets women with new products and glamorous, sexy, and independent themed advertising, and for men, smoking is often associated with fitness, wealth, power and sexual success.
Find more information about gender differences and tobacco treatment for health care professionals visit our Providers page.
Find out more about Tobacco & Women.
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