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Addict Behav. 2008 Sep;33(9):1148-53. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2008.04.011. Epub 2008 May 8.

The latency to the onset of nicotine withdrawal: a test of the sensitization-homeostasis theory.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655, USA. difranzj@ummhc.org


The latency to withdrawal (LTW) is the expired time between the last cigarette and when the smoker feels the need to smoke again. The sensitization-homeostasis theory predicts that the LTW is inversely related to the frequency and duration of smoking such that more frequent cigarette consumption and a longer history of tobacco use will be associated with a shorter LTW. An anonymous cross-sectional survey of 1055 10th and 11th grade students of mixed ethnicity was conducted in two schools using self-completed questionnaires. Participants were asked "After you have smoked a cigarette, how long can you go before you feel you need to smoke again?" Of 162 current smokers, 73.5% reported a regular need to smoke and a LTW. Reported values for the LTW ranged from .05 h to "3 weeks or more." Monthly cigarette consumption ranged from 1 to 895. The LTW correlated inversely with monthly cigarette consumption (Kendall's tau b=-.53, P<.001) and the duration of smoking (Kendall's tau b=-.25, P<.001) as predicted by the sensitization-homeostasis theory.

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