The acute tobacco withdrawal syndrome among black smokers

Cendrine D. Robinson, Wallace B. Pickworth, Stephen J. Heishman, Andrew J. Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Black smokers have greater difficulty quitting tobacco than White smokers, but the mechanisms underlying between-race differences in smoking cessation are not clear. One possibility is that Black smokers experience greater acute withdrawal than Whites. We investigated whether Black (n = 104) and White smokers (n = 99) differed in abstinence-induced changes in self-report, physiological, and cognitive performance measures. Smokers not wishing to quit completed two counterbalanced experimental sessions. Before one session, they abstained from smoking for at least 12 hr. They smoked normally before the other session. Black smokers reported smaller abstinence-induced changes on a number of subjective measures including the total score of the 10-item Questionnaire for Smoking Urges (QSU) and the total score of the Wisconsin Smoking Withdrawal Scale (WSWS). However, on most subjective measures, and on all objective measures, there were no between-race differences in abstinence-induced change scores. Moreover, Black participants did not report lower QSU and WSWS ratings at the abstinent session, but they did experience significantly higher QSU and WSWS ratings at the nonabstinent session. Abstinence-induced changes in subjective, physiological, and cognitive measures in White smokers were similar for smokers of nonflavored and menthol-flavored cigarettes. There was no evidence that Black smokers experienced greater acute tobacco withdrawal than Whites. To the contrary, Black participants experienced smaller abstinence-induced changes in self-reported craving and withdrawal on some measures. Racial differences in smoking cessation are unlikely to be explained by acute withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Health disparities
  • Menthol
  • Race
  • Tobacco
  • Withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The acute tobacco withdrawal syndrome among black smokers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this