How similar are the smoking and drinking habits of men and women in non-manual jobs?


Hunt K, Emslie C & MacIntyre S (2002) How similar are the smoking and drinking habits of men and women in non-manual jobs?. European Journal of Public Health, 12 (1), pp. 22-28.

Background: Men used to be more likely to smoke and drink heavily than women. However, as social roles changed, so have gender differences in health-related behaviours. This paper explores whether gender differences in these behaviours persist or disappear among men and women occupying similar social roles: working in the same non-manual jobs in Britain. Methods: Self-completion questionnaires were distributed to full-time employees in a bank (n=2,139) and a university (n=1,611). Response rates were 76% and 67% respectively. Respondents were asked whether they smoked currently. Men who reported drinking more than 21 units of alcohol, and women who reported drinking more than 14 units, in the last week were classed as 'heavy' drinkers. Results: In both organizations there were no significant gender differences in smoking, but men were significantly more likely than women to report drinking 'heavily'. Employees in clerical jobs in the university were more than twice as likely as their more senior colleagues to smoke, but were significantly less likely to report drinking 'heavily' in both organizations. High masculinity scores among both men and women were associated with smoking and 'heavy' drinking. Conclusion: Men and women occupying similar social roles are equally likely to smoke but men are significantly more likely to drink 'heavily'. The relationship between paid work variables and these health behaviours are similar for both men and women. The association between high masculinity scores and health-damaging behaviours in both men and women points to the importance of considering gender role orientation, rather than just comparing men and women.

European Journal of Public Health: Volume 12, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2002