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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005 Apr;29(4):547-52.

Alcohol dose-dependent increases in smoking urge in light smokers.

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University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.



The current study assessed dose-dependent effects of alcohol compared with placebo on ratings of urge to smoke in light smokers.


Sixteen nonalcoholic social drinker-smokers were tested individually in three separate early evening sessions where they received a placebo (with 1% ethanol as a taste mask), a low-dose (0.4 g/kg) alcoholic beverage, or high-dose (0.8 g/kg) alcoholic beverage administered in random order. Participants refrained from smoking 2 hr before and throughout the entire early evening experimental sessions. Two subfactors of the Brief Questionnaire of Smoking Urges, BQSU; (factor 1, urge to smoke for stimulation; factor 2, urge to smoke to relieve negative mood and withdrawal) were assessed at baseline and again at rising and declining portions of the blood alcohol curve.


Both the high and low doses of alcohol significantly increased BQSU factor 1 scores during the rising and declining blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limbs (p < 0.05). Comparisons across doses during both limbs revealed that the high dose significantly increased factor 1 smoking urge compared with the low dose and placebo beverage (p < 0.05, high > low = placebo). Alcohol tended to increase factor 2 scores throughout the BAC curve, but levels were not as increased as factor 1 scores. Finally, there was no significant association between participants' smoking levels and smoking urge ratings during the high- and low-dose sessions.


The results support a dose-dependent alcohol-induced increase in smoking urge in cigarette-deprived light smokers. These smoking urge increases were apparent during the rising limb of the BAC and maintained throughout the declining limb. Smoking urge increases were greater for positive reinforcing effects than for negative reinforcing effects.

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