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Dispelling myths about gender differences in smoking cessation: population data from the USA, Canada and Britain
  1. Martin J Jarvis1,
  2. Joanna E Cohen2,3,
  3. Cristine D Delnevo4,5,
  4. Gary A Giovino6
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  3. 3Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4Department of Health Education and Behavioral Science, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  5. 5Center for Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  6. 6Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Martin J Jarvis, Emeritus Professor of Health Psychology, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK; martin.jarvis{at}


Objectives Based mainly on findings from clinical settings, it has been claimed that women are less likely than men to quit smoking successfully. If true, this would have important implications for tobacco control interventions. The authors aimed to test this possibility using data from general population surveys.

Methods The authors used data from major national surveys conducted in 2006–2007 in the USA (Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey), Canada (Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey) and the UK (General Household Survey) to estimate rates of smoking cessation by age in men and women.

Results The authors found a pattern of gender differences in smoking cessation which was consistent across countries. Below age 50, women were more likely to have given up smoking completely than men, while among older age groups, men were more likely to have quit than women. Across all age groups, there was relatively little difference in cessation between the sexes.

Conclusions Conclusions about gender differences in smoking cessation should be based on evidence from the general population rather than from atypical clinical samples. This study has found convincing evidence that men in general are not more likely to quit smoking successfully than women.

  • Smoking cessation
  • gender
  • quit ratios
  • harm reduction
  • prevalence
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • cessation
  • ethics
  • policymakers
  • ideology
  • evaluation
  • advertising and promotion
  • non-cigarette tobacco products
  • surveillance and monitoring
  • smoking-caused disease
  • surveillance
  • environment

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Appropriate national bodies in each country.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.