Placebo cigarettes in a spaced smoking paradigm

Nicole C. Eid, Reginald V. Fant, Eric T. Moolchan, Wallace B. Pickworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Existing evidence supports the notion that nicotine delivery and recentness of smoking mediate the effects of smoking, including decreases in tobacco craving. However, smoking placebo (denicotinized) cigarettes decreases tobacco craving after overnight abstinence. The present study tested whether the recentness of smoking was an important determinant in the ability of a placebo cigarette to reduce tobacco craving. Placebo (0.07 mg nicotine) and conventional (1.1 mg nicotine) cigarettes were used in a spaced smoking paradigm. In six experimental sessions lasting 240 min, subjects smoked either a placebo or conventional nicotine cigarette in intervals of either 30, 60, or 240 min. Heart rate (HR), exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) levels, and subjective (Schuh-Stitzer, QSU) measures of tobacco craving were obtained throughout the spaced smoking paradigm. HR and CO levels increased after smoking both types of cigarettes. Increasing the interval since the last cigarette significantly (p < 0.001) increased the baseline values of tobacco craving. Smoking either the placebo or the conventional cigarette caused a significant (p < 0.01) reduction in the craving score after smoking. However, the nicotine yield of the cigarette did not influence these patterns. It is concluded that acute tobacco cravings can be repeatedly diminished with cigarettes that do not deliver nicotine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-164
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cigarettes
  • Denicotinized cigarettes
  • Placebo cigarettes
  • Smoking
  • Spaced smoking
  • Tobacco craving
  • Withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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