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Health Educ Res. 2004 Jun;19(3):239-49.

Contextualizing smoking: masculinity, femininity and class differences in smoking in men and women from three generations in the west of Scotland.

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  • 1MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow University, Glasgow G12 8RZ, UK.


The epidemiology of smoking, and contemporary and historical accounts of tobacco consumption, together suggest that the patterning of smoking by class, gender and gender role identities may differ markedly for people born at different stages in the establishment and demise of smoking in the 20th century. Here, we report an analysis that examines this assertion using empirical data collected from men and women living in the west of Scotland, an area with high rates of smoking, who were born in the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s. Class trends in smoking were less apparent for men than for women in the older two cohorts and there was little evidence of class patterning in either sex in the youngest participants. There was little relationship between the measures of gender role orientation and current smoking amongst men. Amongst women, the strongest association was between smoking and a well-validated measure of 'femininity' in the 1950s cohort; each unit increase in 'femininity' score increased the odds of being a smoker by 46%. In this same cohort of women, there was also a weaker relationship between smoking and higher masculinity scores. These results are discussed in the context of continuing use of gendered imagery to exploit new markets in the developing world.

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