Do smokers crave cigarettes in some smoking situations more than others? Situational correlates of craving when smoking

Michael S. Dunbar, Deborah Scharf, Thomas Kirchner, Saul Shiffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Smokers tend to smoke when experiencing craving, but even within smoking occasions, craving may vary. We examine variations in craving when people were smoking in various real-world situations. Methods: Using Ecological Momentary Assessment, 394 smokers recorded smoking, craving, and smoking context in real time on electronic diaries over 2 weeks of ad libitum smoking. Assessments occurred immediately prior to smoking. Mixed modeling was used to analyze associations between craving and situational variables. Results: Craving varied across smoking situations, but the differences were small (<1 on a 0-10 scale). Specifically, craving was higher in smoking situations where smoking was restricted, likely because high craving leads smokers to violate restrictions. Controlling for restrictions, craving was higher when cigarettes were smoked while eating or drinking, were with other people (vs. alone), were in a group of people (vs. other people simply in view), during work (vs. leisure), and during activity (vs. inactivity). In addition, craving was higher for cigarettes smoked early in the day. No differences in craving were observed in relation to drinking alcohol or caffeine (vs. doing anything else), being at work (vs. home), being at a bar or restaurant (vs. all other locations), interacting with others (vs. not interacting), or other people smoking (vs. no others smoking). Discussion: Even though most craving reports prior to smoking were high, and situations were thus expected to have little influence on craving, results suggest that some cigarettes are craved more than others across different smoking situations, but differences are small.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 4 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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