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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Sep;212(1):25-32. doi: 10.1007/s00213-010-1902-z. Epub 2010 Jun 29.

Nicotine and food deprivation decrease the ability to resist smoking.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.



Attempts to simultaneously control food intake and smoking may lead to smoking cessation failure. We sought to model this relationship using a human laboratory paradigm of smoking lapse behavior.


We examined the combined effect of food and nicotine deprivation, compared to nicotine deprivation alone, on the ability to resist smoking and on subsequent ad libitum smoking.


In a between-subjects design, daily smokers (N = 30) were all deprived of nicotine for 18 h and were either food-deprived (12 h) or not during a laboratory session. Following exposure to individualized food cues, participants had the option of initiating tobacco self-administration or delaying up to 50 min in exchange for monetary reinforcement. Subsequently, the tobacco self-administration period consisted of 1 h in which participants could choose to smoke or receive monetary reinforcement for cigarettes not smoked.


Smokers who had been deprived of food and nicotine smoked their first cigarette sooner and were more likely to smoke at some point during the laboratory session, compared to those who were only nicotine-deprived. Those who were food- and nicotine-deprived smoked slightly more cigarettes than those who were nicotine-deprived only, although this difference was not statistically significant. There were no sex differences in outcomes. Hunger and food craving ratings while trying to resist smoking were greater in the food + nicotine-deprived group. Tobacco craving was predictive of outcome in both conditions.


These findings support the hypothesis that food deprivation can undermine a smoker's ability to resist smoking.

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