Factors Predicting Smoking in a Laboratory-Based Smoking-Choice Task

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This study aimed to expand the current understanding of smoking maintenance mechanisms by examining how putative relapse risk factors relate to a single behavioral smoking choice using a novel laboratory smoking-choice task. After 12 hr of nicotine deprivation, participants were exposed to smoking cues and given the choice between smoking up to two cigarettes in a 15-min window or waiting and receiving four cigarettes after a delay of 45 min. Greater nicotine dependence, higher impulsivity, and lower distress tolerance were hypothesized to predict earlier and more intensive smoking. Out of 35 participants (n = 9 women), 26 chose to smoke with a median time to a first puff of 1.22 min (SD = 2.62 min, range = 0.03–10.62 min). Survival analyses examined latency to first puff, and results indicated that greater pretask craving and smoking more cigarettes per day were significantly related to smoking sooner in the task. Greater behavioral disinhibition predicted shorter smoking latency in the first 2 min of the task, but not at a delay of more than 2 min. Lower distress tolerance (reporting greater regulation efforts to alleviate distress) was related to more puffs smoked and greater nicotine dependence was related to more time spent smoking in the task. This novel laboratory smoking-choice paradigm may be a useful laboratory analog for the choices smokers make during cessation attempts and may help identify factors that influence smoking lapses.

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