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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Association of depression symptom level with smoking urges, cigarette withdrawal, and smoking reinstatement: A preliminary laboratory study.

  • Author(s): Tucker, Chyna J;
  • Bello, Mariel S;
  • Weinberger, Andrea H;
  • D'Orazio, Lina M;
  • Kirkpatrick, Matthew G;
  • Pang, Raina D
  • et al.


Cigarette smoking urges, withdrawal, and smoking reinstatement may be especially relevant to people with elevated depression symptoms who smoke. This laboratory study aimed to assess relations between depression symptom level and smoking urges for reward and relief, cigarette withdrawal, and smoking reinstatement in people who smoke cigarettes daily during acute abstinence and while smoking as usual.


Participants with low (n = 51) or elevated (n = 29) baseline depression symptoms underwent two counterbalanced laboratory sessions (i.e., abstinent, non-abstinent). At each session, they completed subjective measures of smoking urges for reward and relief, and withdrawal. They also completed a laboratory smoking reinstatement task measuring whether they would delay smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked.


The elevated depression symptom group reported significantly higher withdrawal (p = .01) and smoked more cigarettes than the low depression symptoms group during the smoking reinstatement task self-administration period at the abstinent session (p = .04). Smoking urges for reward and relief were not significantly different by depression symptom group. There were no significant interactions of depression and abstinence with any outcomes.


As outcomes were measured at both an abstinent and non-abstinent session, findings identify factors for people with elevated depression symptoms who smoke which may drive smoking behavior and impede smoking cessation efforts. This study provides evidence that people with elevated depression symptoms who smoke may need additional/more pharmacological or behavioral smoking cessation aids targeted at reducing withdrawal and number of cigarettes smoked.

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