Statistics show that smoking women have a harder time in quitting their unhealthy habit than men do. According to a researcher of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, women’s addiction to both nicotine and their “smoking image” can be stronger and more overwhelming than that of men.
Women often do not even attempt to quit smoking cigarettes because they fear they may gain weight after smoking cessation. Usually, both men and women gain at least ten pounds of excess weight after stopping smoking, but men do not react to the temporary weight gain the way women do. Those women who are trying to quit smoking “cold turkey”, do start eating more and usually gain a considerable amount of weight. They also tend to withdraw from their usual social circle, feel moody and cranky, and often succumb to depression.
Smoking women may find it harder to quit cigarettes, because smoking cessation aggravates unstable moods brought fourth by female hormonal cycles. In addition to abrupt weight gain, after stopping smoking many women experience worsening of their premenstrual symptoms, debilitating tiredness, and exacerbation of chronic diseases, especially depression and fibromyalgia. Some women undertake several unsuccessful attempts to stop smoking within a short period of time, which may lead to the feeling of helplessness and further aggravate their emotional and psychological problems.
In addition, women exhibit more sensitivity to usual smoking triggers, such as stressful situations, “coffee rituals”, being together with smoking friends, or watching somebody else lighting up. Such “smoking cues” have a more profound influence on women than they do on men. As the result, many women cannot properly adjust to their new “non-smoking image” and soon return to their habit of puffing cigarettes.
The researcher also pointed out that popular anti-smoking aids, such as nicotine gums or patches, might not work as successfully in women as they do in men. Many female smokers, in addition to their nicotine addiction, are hooked on “smoking rituals” and their “smoking image”, especially if they often socialize with smoking friends, while nicotine-containing medications only address physical addiction to tobacco and do not treat physiological aspects of female smoking.
The most promising method in helping female smokers kick their habit is to combine drug therapy with behavioural counselling. At that, support of their family, friends, and social surroundings is crucial for success.
Also, women who are quitting smoking should never attempt dieting while they are still getting through a physical and psychological turmoil of smoking cessation. Double stress of quitting cigarettes and depriving themselves tasty foods can increase the women’s risk of the “smoking relapse” and even the development of a full-blown clinical depression.