1 December 2012

Nigeria: Why Men Quit Smoking Easier Than Women

Smoking is a hard habit to quit, because tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. That's why it is said that it's better not to even start smoking at all than trying to stop it. Even though the number of women who smoke is lower compared to men, it is quite surprising to know that men give up smoking easily than women, according to a recent research. RALIAT AHMED-YUSUF writes.

Cigarette adverts are often targeted at men than women. But that does not mean the number of female smokers around the world are not significant? In fact, about 20 per cent of the over one billion smokers worldwide are women.

Men are better at giving up smoking, even though women are keener to quit, a study has found.

Researchers believe that women may find it harder to kick the habit, because of their confidence in quitting is lower, and also because tobacco plays a different role in their lives.

Although many female smokers give up while pregnant, they often start again once the child is born.

The study found that while women may be highly motivated to quit, they are actually less likely to succeed than men.

In Nigeria, however, the case may be different, says a medical practitioner, Dr. Chijioke Achebe. According to him, not a lot of women smoke in Nigeria because it is not in our culture for women to form the habit of smoking. The number is increasing now, because some women smoke for two reasons: one, for companionship, and two, to create a status symbol.

On why women usually find it difficult to quit smoking, Dr. Achebe said, "first of all, when you take a look at women who smoke, they are usually single ladies who do it out of frustration. Cigarette, like cocaine, is highly addictive, and whenever some women feel frustrated, they always go back to smoking, which serves as a source of temporary relief, and it goes on and on like that.

Another reason why women may not easily give up smoking is the fact that most women do not seek help and they keep going back to feel what they want to feel. It may not be completely true to say that women do not give up smoking easily, because in the Nigerian culture, a man may not accept to marry a woman who smokes; and therefore, for a woman who would like to settle down, she may have to give up smoking, whether she likes it or not, says Dr. Achebe.

Meanwhile, older smokers are better at quitting than younger ones, the study has found.

Researchers looked at studies from between 1990 and 2007, to work out the success rates for the National Health Schemes (NHS) to help people stop smoking.

Fewer smokers depend on the NHS for help to quit smoking in disadvantaged areas (52.6 per cent) than elsewhere (57.9 per cent), although the proportion of those treated for smoking-related illnesses was higher.

But those from poorer areas were slightly more successful in giving up.

The analysis was carried out by scientists from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and the United Kingdom Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.

"The UK remains the only country in the world to have comprehensive, free-at-the-point-of-use cessation services, and the study suggests these services do provide effective support for smokers who want to quit," the research team said.

But, they added that "more innovative cessation interventions" are required for some specific groups of smokers.

Ms Sarah Olufemi (not real name), who has been smoking for over 15 years gave two reasons why it has been very difficult for her to quit smoking. First, she said men can take to other habits like drinking and womanizing when they quit. But for a woman, taking to drinking is quite difficult because it is associated more with men. Again, while a man can take to womanizing, it is not in our culture for a woman to go chasing a man, she said.

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