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Patterns and causes of gender differences in smoking


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  • Waldron, Ingrid
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    In the early twentieth century in the United States and other Western countries, women were much less likely than men to smoke cigarettes, due in part to widespread social disapproval of women's smoking. During the mid-twentieth century, growing social acceptance of women's smoking contributed to increased smoking adoption by women. Increased social acceptance of women's smoking was part of a general liberalization of norms concerning women's behavior, reflecting increasing equality between the sexes. These historical trends were due in part to increases in women's employment. However, in the contemporary period employment appears to have little or no effect on women's smoking. Sex role norms and general expectations concerning gender-appropriate behavior have had a variety of effects on gender differences in smoking. First, general characteristics of traditional sex roles, including men's greater social power and generally greater restrictions on women's behavior, contributed to widespread social pressures against women's smoking. Second, traditional sex role norms and expectations have fostered gender differences in personal characteristics and experiences which influence smoking adoption. For example, rebelliousness has been more expected and accepted for males, and greater rebelliousness among adolescent males has contributed to greater smoking adoption by males. Finally, certain aspects of sex roles have contributed to gender differences in appraisal of the costs and benefits of smoking. For example, physical attractiveness is emphasized more for females and the contemporary beauty ideal is very slender, so females are more likely to view weight control as a benefit of smoking. Several other hypotheses concerning the causes of gender differences in smoking are not supported by the available evidence. For example, it appears that women's generally greater concern with health has not contributed significantly to gender differences in the prevalence of smoking. Similarly, it appears that sex differences in physiological responses to smoking have made only minor contributions to gender differences in smoking adoption or cessation.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 32 (1991)
    Issue (Month): 9 (January)
    Pages: 989-1005

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:32:y:1991:i:9:p:989-1005

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    Keywords: smoking cigarette gender sex differences sex roles women;


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    Cited by:
    1. Koning, Pierre & Webbink, Dinand & Martin, Nicholas G., 2010. "The Effect of Education on Smoking Behavior: New Evidence from Smoking Durations of a Sample of Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 4796, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Bauer, Thomas & Göhlmann, Silja & Sinning, Mathias, 2006. "Gender Differences in Smoking Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 5848, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Albert Hermalin & Deborah Lowry, 2012. "The Decline of Smoking Among Female Birth Cohorts in China in the 20th Century: A Case of Arrested Diffusion?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 545-570, August.
    4. Murakami, Keiko & Hashimoto, Hideki & Lee, Jung Su & Kawakubo, Kiyoshi & Mori, Katsumi & Akabayashi, Akira, 2011. "Distinct impact of education and income on habitual exercise: A cross-sectional analysis in a rural city in Japan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(12), pages 1683-1688.
    5. Yamamura, Eiji, 2011. "Effects of female labor participation on smoking behavior in Japan: Selection model approach," MPRA Paper 28698, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Ingrid Waldron & Christopher McCloskey & Inga Earle, 2005. "Trends in gender differences in accidents mortality," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(17), pages 415-454, November.
    7. Kilic, Dilek & Ozturk, Selcen, 2014. "Gender differences in cigarette consumption in Turkey: Evidence from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 207-214.
    8. Fomba Kamga, Benjamin & Kengne Kamga, Arline & Audibert, Martine, 2013. "Health and Labour Income of Wage Earners and Self-Employed Workers in Cameroon," IZA Discussion Papers 7324, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Laura Staetsky & Andrew Hinde, 2009. "Unusually small sex differentials in mortality of Israeli Jews: What does the structure of causes of death tell us?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(11), pages 209-252, March.
    10. Yamamura, Eiji, 2010. "Effects of Female Labor Participation and Marital Status on Smoking Behavior in Japan," MPRA Paper 21789, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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