ATLANTA — A federal study of smoking habits in 21 states and the District of Columbia indicates that more people than ever are trying to quit smoking, but women are doing it at a slower rate than men.
"More men appear to be stopping smoking than women, even though the smoking hazards for both men and women have been widely publicized," the Centers for Disease Control said in releasing the report Friday.
The study, conducted by the CDC's Center for Health Promotion and Education, surveyed 25,000 current and former cigarette smokers in 1985. A smoker who had gone at least one week during the year without a cigarette was defined as an "attempter."
In 16 of the 22 jurisdictions, the percentage of male attempters was greater than the number of female attempters, the CDC said.
Among men, the median percentage of smokers who attempted to quit was 42.3%, according to the report. Among women, the median was 39.8%.
The CDC said its report showed overall that 40% of smokers had gone at least a week without a cigarette. "This is over twice the rate (15%) of yearly attempts to quit smoking reported elsewhere," it said, citing a recent study by the American College of Physicians.
Tom Novotny, a CDC epidemiologist, said that past health warnings and anti-smoking campaigns have focused on men, and left many people with a perception that the health risks of smoking are greater for men than for women.
Also, cigarette marketing has been more effective with women in creating a glamorous image of smokers, he said.
But he said health officials are beginning to produce more anti-smoking literature aimed at women. Recent statistics showing that lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as a threat to women are a part of the new message.