Gender differences in cigarette smoking and quitting in a cohort of young adults

Am J Public Health. 1991 Mar;81(3):324-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.3.324.


Background: Smoking among young women is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes. Gender specific influences on smoking, quitting and attempting to quit are hypothesized to occur and may have implications for cessation programs.

Methods: Telephone surveys were conducted in a large (n = 6,711) cohort of young men and women (average age 19.2 years) which was first established in 1979 and has been resurveyed several times since then. Questions concerned smoking, successful and unsuccessful attempts to quit, withdrawal symptoms during quit attempts, and concerns about quitting.

Results: More women than men reported current smoking (26.5 vs 22.6 percent), but quitting attempts, successful and unsuccessful, were equally common. Withdrawal symptoms were reported equally, except for wanting to eat more than usual and weight gain, both of which were reported more often by women than men. Women smokers reported substantially more concern about weight gain if they quit smoking (57.9 vs 26.3 percent expressing concern).

Conclusions: Targeted programs are needed to address issues of concern to young women smokers, particularly fear of gaining weight.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Weight
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention