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5 Reasons Women Smokers Have The Advantage Over Men Smokers

Nov 2, 2007
Women smokers differ from men smokers. They may share the basics of what they call an "addiction," but have different reasons for smoking and stopping, and different strengths and weaknesses that alter their experience.

As a woman, here's how you may have substantial advantages over men in quitting:

1. Women are better at getting help and giving help to each other. That means if a woman wants or needs to quit, she can more readily ask for her friends' help, and that support from girlfriends will be more motivating to her than it would be to a man.

2. Women smokers often stop cold for pregnancy. The most fortunate stop in preparation for becoming pregnant. Others need the impetus of discovering they are already pregnant. The strong desire to have a child, particularly one who is born healthy, and to avoid defects that a smoking mother can cause in vitro, are powerful motivators to many women who deeply desire to be mothers.

This was brought home to me many times in my smoking-cessation work with women. A woman who says she failed to stop smoking many times before often does so easily because she wants to have a baby, or because one is already on its way.

With all the publicity around smoking in general, and smoking while pregnant in particular, it is a rare pregnant woman who smokes. At least in company.

If a woman can stop for pregnancy and nursing, and often for raising the young child, she has already developed the habit of not-smoking, and the addiction to clear lungs, fresh breath, and a clean, healthy mouth. She can simply choose to "stay stopped."

3. Women smokers are concerned about how smoking will affect their children physically. And because they usually spend more time with their children than men do, the concern is both acute and valid. The danger of secondhand smoke, especially to young lungs, has been a growing concern in recent years.

4. Women smokers are aware that children may smoke because they grew up watching their mother smoke. Mothers realize how much influence their behaviors wield over their children, and worry about promoting dangerous habits.

5. Women smokers worry that smoking affects their looks. They are sensitive to the "smoker's wrinkles" long-time smokers acquire at the corners of their smiles and around their lips, in addition to the dehydrated skin that is often seen on women who have smoked for many years.

Women have thinner, finer skin more deeply affected by wrinkles, and because wrinkles on women are not considered attractive, they work to avoid wrinkling. For many women, young and old, beauty continues to motivate. In this case, that's quite useful.

Are there ways women smokers are disadvantaged in quitting smoking? Frankly, there are two particular ways. First, women are often more concerned about their weight than men. If they convince themselves that smoking keeps them thinner, they may set themselves up to be lifelong smokers.

But informed women know that most smokers gain no more than a few pounds, if any, when they first quit. One theory is that this is the drying affect that smoking creates (think beef jerky); as nonsmokers, that lost water weight is regained briefly. Once the body is used to being nonsmoking, those pounds drop off.

In fact, those who huffed and puffed as smokers--and couldn't exercise--often enjoy working out energetically once they've quit and regained oxygen flow.

These women become slimmer, trimmer, and tighter than they ever were before. And because their tastebuds are no longer inhibited by the smoking habit, they regain their sense of taste (and smell!), and can enjoy every bit of pleasure from smaller morsels of food.

The second "disadvantage" for women quitters is the flip side of their #1 advantage: the influence of girlfriends. Just as the supportive friend makes quitting easier, the friend who tempts the former smoker to smoke "just one" can wipe out all those good efforts. Choose friends well, and ask for support from those who will truly help and not sabotage. Recognize "smoking saboteurs" who prefer having you as a fellow smoker.
About the Author
Wendy Lapidus-Saltz is a certified hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner who helps people break unproductive habits and create productive ones. Based in Chicago, she is known for her unique smoking-cessation program. For more info on her program visit http://www.nonsmoker4life.com
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