Gender matters in quitting smoking

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Oct 15, 2013 - Page 3

Studies have found that women tend to have greater difficulty quitting smoking than men do, the Taiwan Health Foundation said yesterday.

Smoking in Taiwan has dropped from 32.5 percent 20 years ago to 19.1 percent in 2011, but the reduction has mostly taken place among men, while the smoking rate for women remains steady at about 4 percent, National Taiwan University Hospital’s Family Medicine Department attending physician Chang Hao-hsiang (張皓翔) said.

Chang said studies have found women have a tougher time quitting, as they are worried about weight gain and are more susceptible to intense withdrawal symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.

“Women also have greater difficulty quitting because of their partners,” Chang said. “Men generally receive greater support from their female partner than vice versa.”

The smoking relapse rate for those living with smokers is four times higher than those living with non-smokers.

Many men believe they can quit by willpower alone, “but this accounts for less than 10 percent of those able to give up,” Chang said.

Chang said people in smoking-cessation outpatient services, covered by National Health Insurance, are on average able to quit twice as fast as those not using them.

“It is better to receive counseling at the outpatient service because wrong use of the drugs might result in heavier smoking,” Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital family medicine physician Hu Nien-chih (胡念之) said.