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Addict Behav. 2019 Nov;98:106041. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106041. Epub 2019 Jul 2.

Nicotine in thirdhand smoke residue predicts relapse from smoking cessation: A pilot study.

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San Diego State University, Department of Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA. Electronic address:
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA.
San Diego State University Research Foundation, San Diego, CA, USA.
San Diego State University, School of Public Health, San Diego, CA, USA.
Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.



Thirdhand smoke (THS) residue lingers for months in homes of former smokers and may play a role in relapse after smoking cessation. This study examined the association between THS pollution as measured by the level of nicotine in house dust and continued abstinence from smoking.


Participants were 65 cigarette smokers who reported they were enrolled in any type of smoking cessation program, had set a specific date to quit, and had biochemical verification of continuous abstinence at 1-week (W1), 1-month (M1), 3-months (M3), or 6-months (M6) after their quit date. House dust samples collected at baseline before quitting were analyzed for nicotine concentration (μg/g) and nicotine loading (μg/m2) using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).


Controlling for age, gender, overall and indoor smoking rates, and years lived in their home, dust nicotine concentration and loading predicted abstinence at W1, M1, M3, and M6. A 10-fold increase in dust nicotine loading and concentration were associated with approximately 50% lower odds of remaining abstinent.


Findings suggest nicotine in house dust may play a role in facilitating relapse after smoking cessation. Additional research is warranted to investigate the causal role of THS residue in homes of former smokers on cravings and continued abstinence.


Nicotine; Relapse; Smoking cessation; Thirdhand smoke

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