Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Michael Eriksen Sc.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

John A. Steward MPH

Third Advisor

Ike S. Okosun PhD, MS


Globally female smoking rates are considerably lower than male smoking rates. However, there is great concern regarding female smoking due to the potential for future increases and the associated harm to health. To gain a better understanding regarding female smoking, this study examines the role of gender equality and economic development in explaining the variability in female smoking rates and female-to-male smoking differentials by examining data from 193 World Health Organization member states. Data on the dependent variables, female smoking prevalence rates and female-to-male smoking prevalence ratio, were obtained from the Tobacco Atlas. Data on independent variables i.e., measures of gender equality and gross national income per capita, proxy measure for economic development, were obtained from the 2005 Human Development Report, Central Intelligence Agency, and the World Bank. A composite gender equality index was constructed from the individual measures of gender equality. Multiple regression analysis showed composite gender equality index and gross national income per capita to be significant positive predictors of relative and absolute female smoking rates, with income being a stronger predicator. Individual measures of gender equality failed to show significance with either dependent variable. The results attest to the need for disentangling smoking from the notion of advancement in gender equality and economic development.


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