Nearly one in four adults in the world smoke tobacco. But how big of a role does gender play in these statistics?
In most countries, the percentage of men who smoke is much higher than women who smoke. Interestingly, gender-based tobacco marketing contributes differently to how men and women smoke. According to one recent study conducted in Mexico, smoking is presented to women as feminine, attractive, and rebellious. On the other hand, smoking is shown as strength, virility, independence, and mystery for men — insights that echo how smoking is presented in the US, too, particularly in television, Hollywood movies, and advertisements. Aside from marketing, other factors like accessibility to smoking cessation products and services can also impact smoking rates between men and women.
Below, we’ll look at some gender differences in smoking habits and ways both genders can quit for good:
Gender differences in smoking habits
As mentioned earlier, men generally use all tobacco products at higher rates than women. According to a piece on gender differences in tobacco smoking from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some of the differences may be due to a combination of physiological, cultural, and behavioral factors, including ovarian hormones.
Studies suggest that smoking activates men’s reward pathways more than women’s. Similarly, other studies have implied that men smoke for the reinforcing effects of nicotine. In contrast, women smoke for mood regulation or in response to cigarette-related cues, such as other people smoking in their vicinity or seeing an ashtray. At the same time, previous research suggests that women experience stronger cravings than men in response to stress, while men may be more responsive to environmental cues.
However, data shows that men and women don’t differ in their desire to quit, plans to quit, or quit attempts. Statistics also indicate that women were 31% less likely to quit successfully, one of the reasons being post-cessation weight gain associated with changes in the body’s metabolism once women stop using nicotine.
Helping everyone quit for good
Despite the low cessation rates, various products, services, and lifestyle changes can help boost the chances of quitting for good. Below are a few to help:
Quit smoking products
Most smokers tend to go through multiple quit attempts before succeeding due to tobacco and nicotine cravings. To combat this, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products are available to help stave off cravings by providing users with microdoses of nicotine. Nowadays, you can easily buy nicotine pouches online from popular brands, including ZYN, VELO, and Rouge on reputable sites like Prilla, for a 100% tobacco-free and smoke-free alternative. Nicotine pouches are small pouches made with nicotine, flavorings, and food-grade fillers. The pouch is tucked between your gum and top lip, making them a discreet option that is also easy to dispose of.
While relatively new to the market, other alternative nicotine products have the same function. Just recently, pharmaceutical company Perrigo received its FDA green light for its mint nicotine lozenges. These are nicotine-coated mint lozenges that deliver microdoses of nicotine and are available over the counter. It’s marketed as the brand’s alternative to Nicorette’s nicotine lozenges, helping reduce withdrawal symptoms in users trying to quit smoking.
Exercise to beat cravings
As mentioned earlier, some smokers may have difficulty quitting due to post-cessation weight gain. Fortunately, studies have shown that exercising can help limit this weight gain and fight cigarette cravings for smokers trying to stop. For example, withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes decrease during exercise and up to 50 minutes after exercising. Exercise also reduces appetite, keeping post-cessation weight gain at bay. As some cigarette cravings are often caused by stress, exercise can also help decrease stress levels.
In fact, maintaining physical fitness is essential to maintaining both our physical and mental strengths. By exercising, we can better hold on to the connection and balance between our physical and mental states. Running and jogging outdoors or joining fitness challenges can also help build mental fortitude, keeping your mind off cigarette cravings and into more productive and healthy pursuits.