Smoking Through a Topography Device Diminishes Some of the Acute Rewarding Effects of Smoking

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Smoking topography (ST) devices are an important methodological tool for quantifying puffing behavior (eg, puff volume, puff velocity) as well as identifying puffing differences across individuals and situations. Available ST devices are designed such that the smoker’s mouth and hands have direct contact with the device rather than the cigarette itself. Given the importance of the sensorimotor aspects of cigarette smoking in smoking reward, it is possible that ST devices may interfere with the acute rewarding effects of smoking. Despite the methodological importance of this issue, few studies have directly compared subjective reactions to smoking through a topography device to naturalistic smoking.


Smokers (N = 58; 38% female) smoked their preferred brand of cigarettes one time through a portable topography device and one time naturalistically, in counterbalanced order across two laboratory sessions. Smoking behavior (eg, number of puffs) and subjective effects (eg, urge reduction, affect, smoking satisfaction) were assessed.


Negative affect reduction was greater in the natural smoking condition relative to the topography condition, but differences were not significant on measures of urge, withdrawal, or positive affect. Self-reported smoking satisfaction, enjoyment of respiratory tract sensations, psychological reward, craving reduction, and other rewarding effects of smoking were also significantly greater in the naturalistic smoking condition.


The effects of using a ST device on the smoking experience should be considered when it is used in research as it may diminish some of the rewarding effects of smoking.


When considering the inclusion of a smoking topography device in one’s research, it is important to know if use of that device will alter the smoker’s experience. This study assessed affective and subjective reactions to smoking through a topography device compared to naturalistic smoking. We found that smoking satisfaction, psychological reward, enjoyment of respiratory tract sensations and other rewarding effects were all diminished when smoking through the topography device. The effects of using a smoking topography device on the smoking experience should be considered when it is used in future research.

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