5 Reasons Why It's Harder for Women to Quit Smoking

Cristen Conger

Women have a harder time quitting smoking. (Sam Diephius/Getty Images)

The newest episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You explores how cigarettes transitioned from being a leisure activity reserved to for men to being acceptable -- and fashionable at times -- for women as well. Of course, we now know that smoking isn't healthy for either gender and kills roughly 5 million people around the world every year.

But plenty of us still do it, and GOOD magazine illustrates why that is in slick infographic form. Moreover, women who get hooked typically have a tougher time kicking nicotine, and here are the big five reasons:

  1. Stress and anxiety are often the top smoking relapse triggers for women. Studies have shown that women who have previously quit smoking might be more prone to light up when stress and anxiety strike.
  2. Women's bodies go through more severe withdrawal symptoms than men as well, making it more difficult to stick with quitting.
  3. Over-the-counter smoking cessation aid, like gums and patches, are more effective in men, possibly due to gender differences in how nicotine affects the brain.
  4. Many women smoke as a form of weight control, which makes it tempting to relapse if they put on pounds while attempting to quit.
  5. Fluctuating hormones during the menstrual cycle can disrupt quitting attempts. There may be a correlation between successful quitting and the progesterone-high luteal phase that occurs post-ovulation before the next period.

Perhaps it's time health organizations steal the vintage Virginia Slims tagline "You've come a long way baby" as the newest celebratory slogan for women quitting smoking.

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