Gender differences in tobacco use in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America

Soc Sci Med. 1988;27(11):1269-75. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(88)90357-7.

Abstract

This paper reviews historical, anthropological and contemporary survey data concerning gender differences in tobacco use in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. In many cultural groups in these regions, tobacco use has been substantially more common among men than among women. In some groups, tobacco use has been about equally common for both sexes. No evidence was found of any group in which tobacco use has been substantially more common among women. The widespread pattern of greater tobacco use by men appears to be linked to general features of sex roles. For example, men have often had greater social power than women, and this has been expressed in greater restrictions on women's behavior, including social prohibitions against women's smoking. These social prohibitions against women's smoking have strongly inhibited women's tobacco use and thus have been a major cause of gender differences in tobacco use. Gender differences in tobacco use have varied in magnitude, depending on the type of tobacco use and the particular cultural group, age group and historical period considered. Causes of the variation in gender differences in tobacco use include variation in women's status and variation in the social significance and benefits attributed to particular types of tobacco use in different cultures. Contact with Western cultures appears to have increased or decreased gender differences in smoking, depending on the specific circumstances. The patterns of gender differences in tobacco use in non-Western societies are similar in many ways to the patterns observed in Western societies, but there are several important differences.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Identification, Psychological*
  • Latin America
  • Male
  • Pacific Islands
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Tobacco*