The effects of nicotine content information on subjective and behavioural responses to nicotine-containing and denicotinized cigarettes

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Abstract

The effects of nicotine content information on subjective and behavioural responses to nicotine-containing and denicotinized cigarettes were examined in 30 dependent and 30 nondependent 12-h abstinent smokers. Using the four conditions of a balanced placebo design, participants were given either nicotine-containing cigarettes or denicotinized cigarettes during two laboratory sessions but were told that they received nicotine-containing cigarettes in one session and nicotine-free cigarettes in the other. During each session, participants completed subjective assessments before and after sampling three puffs from the assigned cigarette and were then invited to earn additional cigarette puffs using a computerized progressive ratio task. Regardless of the actual nicotine content, participants self-administered more cigarette puffs when they were told the cigarettes contained nicotine than when told the cigarettes were nicotine-free and tended to show a decrease in craving associated with the intention to smoke after cigarette sampling when told the cigarettes were nicotine-free relative to when they were told the cigarettes contained nicotine. However, regardless of nicotine instructions, participants given nicotine-containing cigarettes showed greater postsampling increases in subjective ratings of ‘satisfied’ and ‘stimulated’ than did those given denicotinized cigarettes. The findings suggest that nicotine dose expectancy can affect both subjective and behavioural indices of smoking reinforcement but that the satisfying and stimulating aspects of smoking are related to actual nicotine administration.

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