In the World Health Organization's Western Pacific Region, being born male is the single greatest risk marker for tobacco use. While the literature demonstrates that risks associated with tobacco use may vary according to sex, gender refers to the socially determined roles and responsibilities of men and women, who initiate, continue and quit using tobacco for complex and often different reasons. Cigarette advertising frequently appeals to gender roles. Yet tobacco control policy tends to be gender-blind. Using a broad gender-sensitivity framework, this contradiction is explored in four Western Pacific countries. Part I of the study discusses issues surrounding gender and tobacco, and analyses developments in Malaysia and the Philippines. Part II deals with Singapore and Vietnam. In all four countries, gender was salient for the initiation and maintenance of smoking, and in Malaysia and the Philippines was highly significant in cigarette promotion. Yet, with a few exceptions, gender was largely unrecognized in control policy. Suggestions for overcoming this weakness in order to enhance tobacco control are made in Part II.