When it comes to smoking--and quitting--men and women are different. Understanding the distinctions between them can give you a leg up when you're ready to face the difficult task of quitting.

The Differences

Men tend to smoke from habit or to enhance positive sensations, while women often smoke as a buffer against negative feelings. Men and women also don't respond the same way to nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes. Women smoke fewer cigarettes per day, use lower nicotine cigarettes, and don't inhale as deeply as men. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, several deterrents make women less likely to initiate quitting and more likely to have a relapse.

Nicotine suppresses appetite and boosts metabolism. Unfortunately, women are more likely to gain weight after they stop smoking; so they're more reluctant to quit. Smokers have higher rates of depression and anxiety and are probably drawn to smoking, in part, because it regulates stress and mood. Since women are at greater risk for developing depression and anxiety following smoking cessation, they're less likely to quit successfully. There's even evidence that hormones involved women's menstrual cycles intensify nicotine withdrawal symptoms, making a challenging endeavor even more difficult.


Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is the most prevalent smoking cessation approach and is particularly effective helping men quit. NRT relieves withdrawal symptoms but doesn't contain the cancer-causing toxins in cigarette smoke. Women have better outcomes with NRT when they combine it with counseling support.

Since women fear post-smoking weight gain, those who also receive weight control support are more successful at quitting, avoiding relapse, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Antidepressants can make it easier for would-be quitters at higher risk for depression and anxiety. In fact, pharmaceutical treatments can even double the odds of quitting successfully. Studies have shown that hypnosis also helps men quit smoking.

Why Quit?

Smoking is the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer, and accounts for about one in five premature deaths in the U.S. annually. Quitting significantly reduces your risk of developing cancer. For example, quit by age 30 and you can reduce your risk of dying from a smoking-related disease by more than 90 percent. The benefits of quitting continue to accrue the longer you remain smoke free. If you've already been diagnosed with cancer, quitting smoking helps your body heal and respond to treatment, and lowers your risk of recurrence.

There's no one-size-fits-all smoking cessation program. Find a method, or combination of methods, that works best for you.


"Gender Differences and Tobacco." Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine. Web. http://www.tobaccofreemaine.org/channels/providers/gender_differences.php

"Hypnosis More Helpful To Men Than Women In Quitting Smoking." Science Daily. Web. 30 Julyß 2004.


"Women Can Quit Smoking and Control Weight Gain." Science Daily (Nov. 19, 2009). Web. 10 May 2010.


National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Research Report Series: Nicotine Addiction." Web. http://www.quitsmoking.com/info/articles/nicotine/nicotine4.htm

"Hypnosis helps men more than women when they want to quit smoking." Medical News Today. Web. 31 July 2004. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/11480.php

"Gender Differences in Smoking Cessation." Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 27(3) (2005) DOI: 10.1007/s10862-005-0638-2. Web. http://dionysus.psych.wisc.edu/Lit/Articles/ReynosoJ2005a.pdf

Centers for Disease Control. Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010." Web. 22 April 2010.


National Cancer Institute. "Quitting Smoking: Why To Quit and How To Get Help." Web. 17 August 2007.