How Women Smoke Cigars: An Expert's Perspective

Cigar smoking is a habit that is becoming increasingly popular among women in some developing countries, where it is seen as more socially acceptable than smoking cigarettes. A study conducted by O'Hara and Portser (199) found that women aged 20 to 49 and women aged 50 to 75 were equally likely to be classified as highly dependent smokers. The prevalence of cigar smoking among women aged 18 and over increased by 0.9 percentage points, similar to the increase among adults in general (CDC 1994b).The 1995 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) was used to examine the interest in and attempts to quit smoking among women who smoked daily. The Tobacco Use and Attitudes Survey II (TAPS II) data showed no gender-specific differences between current or former smokers in reporting symptoms of nicotine withdrawal during previous attempts to quit smoking (NCHS, Public Use Data Tape, 199).

In 1979, women were significantly more likely than men to be current smokers and had never tried to quit smoking, but in 1990 no gender-specific differences were observed (NCHS, NHIS, data tapes for public use, 1979, 1990).In the 1999 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), 93.8 (±1), percent of girls who had never smoked and 92.3 (±3), percent of current smokers thought that people could become addicted to cigarettes; in the case of girls who were in high school, the percentages were 94.1 (±3) and 94.6 (±2), respectively. The percentage of female smokers who quit smoking seems to be lower among young black women than among young white women between 1965 and 1966 and 1983-1985, and then comparable in the 1990s. In 1992, 55.9 (± 3) percent of women who had been smokers had stopped smoking due to concerns about their future health, and 22.9 (± 2, percent) had stopped smoking for current health reasons. Hahn and colleagues (1990) found that 37 percent of white women reported having tried cigarettes that were low in tar and nicotine, but only 27 percent of black women reported having tried these products. In the 1999 NYTS, among high school girls, 10.8 (±1), percent of those who never smoked and 37.5 (±5, percent) of current smokers thought that smokers had more friends; among high school girls, the percentages were 12.2 (±2) and 20.0 (±3), respectively. The percentage of smokers who had quit smoking was higher among white women than among black women over all years. Overall, it is clear that cigar smoking is becoming increasingly popular among women in some developing countries.

While there are gender-specific differences in terms of quitting rates and attitudes towards smoking, it is important to note that quitting rates are higher among white women than black women overall.