IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Patterns and causes of gender differences in smoking


  • Waldron, Ingrid


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Waldron, Ingrid, 1991. "Patterns and causes of gender differences in smoking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 989-1005, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:32:y:1991:i:9:p:989-1005

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Pierre Koning & Dinand Webbink & Nicholas Martin, 2015. "The effect of education on smoking behavior: new evidence from smoking durations of a sample of twins," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1479-1497, June.
    3. Quirmbach, Diana & Gerry, Christopher J., 2016. "Gender, education and Russia’s tobacco epidemic: A life-course approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 54-66.
    4. Eiji Yamamura, 2016. "Effects of Female Labor Participation on Smoking Behavior in Japan: Selection Model Approach," Journal of Economics and Econometrics, Economics and Econometrics Society, vol. 59(3), pages 1-18.
    5. Thomas Bauer & Silja Göhlmann & Mathias Sinning, 2007. "Gender differences in smoking behavior," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(9), pages 895-909.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Nystedt, Paul, 2006. "Marital life course events and smoking behaviour in Sweden 1980-2000," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(6), pages 1427-1442, March.
    9. Alvi, Mohsin & Naz, Farah & Khan, M. Mubashir Q. & Mirza, Mohammad Haris & Ikram, Midra & Bux, Ameer, 2016. "Analyzing the Pattern of Smoker in Karachi," MPRA Paper 71973, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. L. Daniel 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.
    11. Zajacova, Anna, 2006. "Education, gender, and mortality: Does schooling have the same effect on mortality for men and women in the US?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(8), pages 2176-2190, October.
    12. Wonhyung Lee & Andrew Grogan-Kaylor & Guillermo Sanhueza & Fernando Andrade & Jorge Delva, 2014. "The association of recreational space with youth smoking in low-socioeconomic status neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 59(1), pages 87-94, February.
    13. Yamamura, Eiji, 2010. "Effects of Female Labor Participation and Marital Status on Smoking Behavior in Japan," MPRA Paper 21789, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. 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;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(4), pages 545-570, August.
    15. Schaap, Maartje M. & Kunst, Anton E. & Leinsalu, Mall & Regidor, Enrique & Espelt, Albert & Ekholm, Ola & Helmert, Uwe & Klumbiene, Jurate & Mackenbach, Johan P., 2009. "Female ever-smoking, education, emancipation and economic development in 19 European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1271-1278, April.
    16. 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).
    17. Yang, Tingzhong & Barnett, Ross & Jiang, Shuhan & Yu, Lingwei & Xian, Hong & Ying, Jun & Zheng, Weijun, 2016. "Gender balance and its impact on male and female smoking rates in Chinese cities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 9-17.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:32:y:1991:i:9:p:989-1005. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.