These are just a few of the research findings into what has emerged as an apparent gender gap between male and female smokers. This research suggests that men smoke mainly for the nicotine, while women tend to care about the smell and taste, the hand-to-mouth sensation, weight control, and boosting their moods.
Although no one really understands what causes these differences, experts say considering them as you implement your quitting strategy might just give you an edge.
The sexes have about the same rates of success with prescription smoking-cessation drugs, but studies of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as the patch and nicotine gum, reveal differences. NRT seems to help both men and women get through those tricky first few months without cigarettes, but after six months, women slide back into the habit at higher rates than men.
On the other hand, gender differences in smoking addiction may also account for an interesting exception to the NRT gender gap: the inhaler, the small, plastic cigarette-holder-shaped device that provides a dose of vaporized nicotine when you take a determined drag from it. In a 2001 study of 504 smokers, inhalers proved more effective for women than for men (at least in the short term), while men experienced more success with the other three options: spray, patch, and especially gum.
"Women lose both the sensory cues and the nicotine when they quit smoking," Cora Lee Wetherington, PhD, explained in a 2002 article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), where she is the women and gender research coordinator. "Therefore, replacing those cuessomething the inhaler can do, but not the patch or gumand learning ways to avoid or cope with those cues may help more women succeed in quitting."