Quitting Smoking No Harder for Women Than Men, Study Says

Analysis of data from three countries debunks myth

FRIDAY, June 1, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Men are no better than women when it comes to quitting smoking, a new study reveals.

The finding challenges the belief that women have more difficulty kicking the habit than men, an idea largely based on the results of clinical trials of smoking cessation aids that show men have higher quit rates than women.

Such a gender-based difference would be important in strategies meant to help reduce smoking, noted study author Martin Jarvis, professor in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London in England, and colleagues.

For this study, the researchers examined data from more than 102,000 smokers who took part in surveys conducted in 2006 and 2007 in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The analysis revealed similar and consistent patterns in all three countries.

Before age 50, women were more likely than men to successfully quit smoking. This was particularly true among smokers in their 20s and 30s. Among people over 60, men were more likely than women to stop smoking. However, this may be due to higher death rates from smoking in older men, the researchers noted.

When smoking quit rates excluded people who continued to use smokeless tobacco and included those who had stopped smoking for more than a year, the quit rates in the United States were about 50 percent for women and nearly 47 percent for men, while quit rates in Canada were about 46 percent for women and about 43 percent for men. No comparable figures were available for the United Kingdom.

The study was published online May 30 in the journal Tobacco Control.

"Our study has found convincing evidence that men in general are not more likely to quit smoking successfully than women. The myth of female disadvantage at quitting smoking is bad, first and foremost, for women," who may believe it, Jarvis and colleagues noted in a journal news release.

It's also bad for men, because they may think they're at an advantage, the researchers added, and for health care professionals and policy makers who are trying to help people quit.

"It is time to put aside the idea that women are less successful than men at giving up smoking," the authors concluded in the news release.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

SOURCE: Tobacco Control, news release, May 30, 2012
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