Examining the Relationship Between Cue-induced Craving and Actual Smoking

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Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology


Smoking cue-reactivity studies have consistently demonstrated heightened self-report craving, as well as moderate autonomic reactivity, among smokers exposed to salient drug-related cues. However, significantly fewer studies have examined whether exposure to smoking cues affects smokers’ actual smoking, or examined the predictive relationship between cue-induced craving and smoking behavior. Using our well-tested pictorial cues in a cue-reactivity paradigm, we investigated the impact of smoking-related cues relative to neutral cues on subjective craving and smoking behavior (assessed via CReSS; Plowshare Technologies, Baltimore, MD) measures of latency to smoke, puff volume, and number of puffs). Further, we examined the predictive value of cue-induced craving on subsequent smoking behavior. Sixty nondeprived daily smokers completed 2 experimental sessions involving exposure to either smoking-related or neutral pictorial cues. Following initial exposure to cues, smokers rated their craving and were then allowed to smoke freely if they chose to during a subsequent 6-min cue exposure period. Result showed that exposure to smoking cues relative to neutral predicted significantly greater craving and increases in smoking behavior. Likewise, the magnitude of the difference in cue-induced craving when exposed to smoking cues relative to neutral cues (i.e., the cue-reactivity effect) was highly predictive of shorter latency to smoke, as well as increased number of puffs and puff volume.