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J Abnorm Psychol. 2007 Aug;116(3):543-53.

The acute effects of nicotine on positive and negative affect in adolescent smokers.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60607, USA.


Although adolescent cigarette smoking remains a critical public health concern, little is known about the reinforcing mechanisms governing smoking in this vulnerable population. To assess predictions derived from both positive and negative reinforcement models of drug use, the authors measured the acute effects of nicotine, as administered via tobacco cigarettes, on both positive and negative affect in a group of 15- to 18-year-old smokers. A matched group of nonsmokers served as a comparison group. Findings revealed that whereas adolescents who smoked a cigarette experienced reductions in both positive and negative affect, the observed reductions in negative affect were moderated by nicotine content of the cigarette (high yield vs. denicotinized), level of nicotine dependence, level of baseline craving, and smoking expectancies pertinent to negative affect regulation. Nonsmokers experienced no change in affect over the 10-min assessment period, and no interaction effects were observed for positive affect. Overall, the findings conform to a negative reinforcement model of nicotine effects and strongly suggest that, even among young light smokers, nicotine dependence and resultant withdrawal symptomatology may serve as motivating factors governing smoking behavior.

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