Women Less Successful Quitting Smoking Than Men

Heli J. Roy  |  2/27/2006 10:15:08 PM

News You Can Use For January 2006

It’s not easy becoming an ex-smoker if you’re a woman. Women are less successful in quitting smoking than men, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Heli Roy.

Women also relapse at a higher rate than men. In addition, they are more likely to use smoking as a tool to control weight and mood.

Women are more concerned about weight gain after quitting than men and are likely to suffer stronger withdrawal symptoms. They are also likely to experience greater increase in appetite after quitting.

Roy says women who are restrained eaters may smoke to control weight more than other groups. Weight control has been part of some smoking cessation programs but has not been successful in preventing weight gain. More recently, behavioral therapy has helped prevent weight gain in smoking cessation programs for women. Additionally, drug therapy has been successful in preventing weight gain, until the therapy was removed.

Some studies suggest that individually tailored programs may work best for smoking cessation and weight gain prevention compared to group treatment.

Pennington Biomedical Research Center doctors Paula Geiselman, Amy Copeland and Pamela Martin assessed the effectiveness of a smoking cessation program that was individually tailored compared to a group approach.

The team recruited 79 participants from a pool of 469 subjects to take part in the study. The recruits were women concerned about their weight and who smoked at least 10 cigarettes a day for the last year. They agreed to attend six smoking cessation sessions in two weeks followed by six relapse prevention cessions. They received nicotine patches for eight weeks.

The majority (87 percent) of participants achieved total abstinence (no smoking in the last two sessions) by the end of the two-week cessation program. Nicotine patch use and adherence did not differ significantly between the group and individually tailored participants.

Abstinence from smoking between individually tailored sessions versus group sessions was not different between groups. At three- and six-month follow-up visits, smoking abstinence was significantly higher among tailored participants (23.7 percent) than group participants (13.9 percent).

There was no difference in weight gain after three and six months in the individually tailored versus group treatments. Among group participants, more weight gain was associated with smoking relapse, but this relationship was not found among the individually tailored participants.

The association between weight gain and smoking relapse was higher among group participants, as compared to individually tailored participants. Among group participants, more weight gain was associated with smoking relapse, but this relationship was not found among the individually tailored participants.

Based on this study, Roy says individually tailored therapy does not yield significantly more smoking cessation or weight gain prevention to justify continuing this approach for smoking cessation programs. Considering the cost of smoking cessation programs, group sessions are nearly equal in effectiveness to individually tailored program Individually tailored information and materials should be provided within a group context to improve smoking cessation and weight gain prevention.

For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, click here.  For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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