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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.


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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