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To smoke or not to smoke: The female perspective

Samstag, 26. April 2014 - 17:12

Over the last 50 years, tremendous societal changes in regard to gender role distribution occurred. The change had positive and negative effects on its individuals and also brought new challenges to the field of psychology. One of the challenges is to stay away from cigarettes being female. Here, two explanations are given to understand why there is a link between smoking and gender from the biopsychosocial perspective. Next, behaviours like why some young women start smoking, continue smoking, and stop smoking are analysed.

Gender role differences start during childhood and the polarization between being a boy or a girl seems to be strongest then. One of the explanations why women are more endangered to start and continue to smoke is due to societal changes like emancipation (being cool and manlike), increased gender related advertising, and socio-economic status during childhood. For example, researcher figured that high correlations between childhood socio-economic status (which involves the level of education), role modeling (smoking mother) and the persistence of smoking exist. One other study discovered that to start and to continue to smoke is comorbid to depression. Depression may lead to self-medication to feel better that may lead to substance abuse like smoking to numb the emotions. Another study identified a strong interrelationship between smoking and personality, which seems to be genetic. In sum, from the biopsychosocial perspective to start and to continue smoking may be influenced by all approaches simultaniously because like for any other human behaviour many factors come together and are intertwined.

In conclusion, there is some difference between man and woman in regard to start, to continue or to stop smoking. One certain perspective of the biopsychosocial model may not exclusively explain those differences. On the contrary, it may be concluded that some factors are more prevalent than others, but still influence each other and are intertwined. Another important factor that influences women to smoke comes from the cultural perspectives and explains why the rate of women smokers is higher in high-income countries like the United States or most countries of Europe than in low- and middle income countries like China and Argentina. Besides the socio-economic status of those countries, cultural gender role differences about the acceptance of woman who smoke is another influencing factor. Here, collectivist and traditional environments influence women’s smoking behaviour as well. Thus, be aware of influencing factors and don’t even start.

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