Shared diseases, differential risks: smoking and gender (Spain)
The habit of smoking and its differential consequences on health by age group, gender and population have changed over the past 200 years, from being a privilege for the male aristocracy to a habit that is widespread among women and men of all classes.
Gender is the main condition for excess in many causes of male morbidity and mortality, such as behaviour linked to motorbike or car accidents or to smoking. In Spain in 2014 smoking had fallen, but 29% of the population still smoked as compared with 26% in Europe, with more men (27%) than women (17%).
The differential consequences of smoking on women are the result of breaking a gender taboo which considered it improper for women, but there is also a sexual component, linked to reproductive biology, such that women smokers are more prone than non-smokers to suffering sterility and sub-fecundity, greater risks of preterm delivery, neonatal death, and less production of breast-milk, as well as having less bone density and having earlier menopause.
The motivation both to start and give up smoking are different for women and men. Conscious of this fact, tobacco companies launch aggressive publicity at women which associates smoking to beauty, social prestige and freedom. But also, as the number of non- and ex-smokers increases in richer countries, advertising aimed at developing countries increases.
Photo, Pablo LinésViñuales