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Addict Behav. 2006 Apr;31(4):711-6. Epub 2005 Jun 27.

The effect of abstinence on cigarette consumption upon the resumption of smoking.

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University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Worcester 01655, United States.


To study the impact of abstinence on the number of cigarettes smoked per day upon the resumption of smoking, adult current smokers completed retrospective surveys in two studies. The consumption rate demonstrated at the resumption of smoking fell with progressively longer abstinence periods out to 6 months, showing little further reduction even after years of abstinence. Subjects in Study 1 (n=848) resumed smoking at 34% of their lifetime peak rate of consumption, accelerating to 58% at 2 weeks, to 64% at 1 month, and to 68% at 6 months. Subjects in Study 2 (n=803) resumed smoking at 48% of their pre-quit peak rate of consumption, accelerating to 69% at 1 week, to 78% at 2 weeks, and to 88% at 6 months. The trajectory of consumption with the resumption of smoking differs from that in novice smokers, suggesting that some impact of nicotine persists during abstinence. The shapes of the observed trajectories suggest that more than one process may be at work. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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