Effect of Nicotine on Negative Affect Among More Impulsive Smokers

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In the present study, the authors tested the hypothesis that nicotine would provide greater relief from negative affect for more impulsive smokers than for less impulsive smokers. Euthymic adult smokers (N = 70) participated in 2 laboratory sessions, during which they underwent a negative mood induction (music + autobiographical memory), then smoked either a nicotinized or de-nicotinized cigarette. Mixed-effects regression yielded a significant Impulsivity × Condition (nicotinized vs. de-nicotinized) × Time interaction. Simple effects analyses showed that heightened impulsivity predicted greater negative affect relief after smoking a nicotinized cigarette but not after smoking a de-nicotinized cigarette. These data suggest that nicotine may be a disproportionately powerful negative reinforcer for highly impulsive smokers, promoting higher levels of nicotine dependence and inhibiting smoking cessation.

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