Why Women Smokers Find It So Hard to Quit; 'EMOTIONAL SUPPORT' FROM CIGARETTES MAKES GIVING UP MORE DIFFICULT

By Dawar, Anil | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Why Women Smokers Find It So Hard to Quit; 'EMOTIONAL SUPPORT' FROM CIGARETTES MAKES GIVING UP MORE DIFFICULT


Dawar, Anil, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: ANIL DAWAR

WOMEN find it harder than men to quit smoking because they use cigarettes as an emotional comfort, a study has found.

Researchers discovered that women tend to start smoking to improve their self-image, and they find cigarettes help them deal with daily crises.

Women were also found to crave nicotine more than men, who tend to take up smoking purely to fit in with their peers. A team of behavioural scientists at the University of Minnesota, who carried out the study, will present their findings at an international conference this week.

Dr Mustafa al'Absi, who headed the team, said: "Women have more difficulties quitting and are more likely to use smoking to cope with negative effects in their lives than men.

"This may make withdrawal symptoms worse and make them more likely to relapse when they are trying to give up."

According to the latest figures from the Department of Health, about 26 per cent of women in Britain aged over 16 - around six million - smoke. About 65 per cent of them want to quit.

Dr al'Absi's team monitored a group of smokers, who were allowed as many cigarettes as they liked on some days of the test and were forced to go without on others.

They were questioned about their feelings on smoking and non-smoking days, and put through a series of maths and mental agility tests.

In each situation, the team found women experienced greater cravings - even on smoking days - and suffered more intense withdrawal symptoms than their male counterparts.

All of the people taking part in the research underperformed in mental and mathematical tests when they were not smoking.

Their moods changed as well - levels of depression, anger and anxiety rose on the days without nicotine.

Amanda Sandford of antismoking group Ash said she was not surprised at the results. "It is hard to generalise about men and women like this but there is probably some truth in it," she said. …

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