Hong Kong study - further proof, women have a harder time quitting cigarettes..

January 21, 2010 - Women have more trouble quitting cigarettes because - more than men - they tend to take up smoking to relieve emotional problems, according to a leading medic.

The claim comes after a survey of women smokers by the University of Hong Kong's school of public health. Since 2006, the school has offered gender- specific counseling under a "Smoking Cessation Service for Female Smokers."

A survey of 332 women smokers, with an average age of 35, over six months until October 31 last year found that 26.5 percent quit after going through the program. The figure was slightly higher than previous studies, in which 21.9 percent of females said they had quit smoking after non-gender-specific counseling. Males chalked up a figure of 28.4 percent.

Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, head of the department of nursing studies at the university's Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, said the increase in the success rate may not be very significant.

But she added: "We must still emphasize the importance of the gender-specific nature of this program. "The craving is a big problem for women because, when they are not happy, they tend to smoke. "If emotional problems such as with relationships or families do not go away, it will be difficult to quit."

Although the majority did not quit smoking entirely, 56 percent of the women managed to reduce their consumption, while 12 percent returned to their original consumption levels. Chan said that, even for those who continued smoking, average daily cigarette consumption decreased from 15.2 to 9.4 and they were better able to resist smoking. The cessation service will start to explore different methods of counseling, Chan said.

The study also found that the tobacco tax increase last year led to a surge in the number of women who enrolled in the program. Professor Lam Tai-hing, director of the school of public health, said: "The financial secretary should think about increasing the tax again this coming budget, hopefully by another 10 percent at least."

He added that pictorial warnings on cigarette packs are too mild and should be revamped to create more impact. The placing of cigarettes in prominent places to attract buyers in shops should also be banned.

Reference: Emotions keep women on cigs, Kaylene Hong, theStandard.com.hk, 1/20/2010.

Related articles: Stress, Anxiety May Keep Women Smoking by Patti Neighmond, npr, 7/13/2009; Smoking Cessation Harder For Women Than Men, The first wealth is health, 7/9/2009; Gender plays a part in smoking and quitting, Hartford Courant, The St. Petersburg Time, In Print: Saturday, August 1, 2009.

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