Aims. The present study examined the smoking characteristics and a biomarker of a community-based sample of Taiwanese individuals, seeking to determine the correlates of nicotine dependence for each gender. Background. Nicotine dependence is a key barrier to smoking cessation. Additionally, nicotine metabolism may influence smoking behaviour and dependence. Correlates of nicotine dependence and biochemical markers of smoking for the Taiwanese population have not yet been studied. Methods. Participants were 402 men and 110 women smokers, who had recently smoked at least one cigarette every day over a recent year. All participants completed a questionnaire which included demographic data, smoking background, self-reported quantity of cigarettes per day and the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence. The participants also provided saliva samples. Results. Female smokers were younger, more likely to be unmarried and were on average higher educated than males. A higher percentage of females reported that family members smoked and tended to be younger at initiation and were also more likely to have attempted to quit on previous occasions. Males reported smoking significantly more cigarettes than females, however, there was no significant difference in the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence scores between the two groups. The average saliva cotinine level was significantly higher for males than females (228.8 ng/ml vs. 94.6 ng/ml, p < 0.0001). Family and friends smoking were risk factors of nicotine dependence among both men and women smokers, but there was a stronger association of both factors on dependence levels for women. Being married is a risk factor for dependence for women but not for men. Conclusion. These findings support the evidence that smoking characteristics and a biochemical marker differ between the males and females. Relevance to clinical practice. The results of the study are useful for health policymakers, assisting them in planning tobacco control activities in light of gender differences.
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