Nicotine dependence, "background" and cue-induced craving and smoking in the laboratory

Michael S. Dunbar, Saul Shiffman, Thomas R. Kirchner, Hilary A. Tindle, Sarah M. Scholl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nicotine dependence has been associated with higher "background" craving and smoking, independent of situational cues. Due in part to conceptual and methodological differences across past studies, the relationship between dependence and cue-reactivity (CR; e.g., cue-induced craving and smoking) remains unclear. Methods: 207 daily smokers completed six pictorial CR sessions (smoking, negative affect, positive affect, alcohol, smoking prohibitions, and neutral). Individuals rated craving before (background craving) and after cues, and could smoke following cue exposure. Session videos were coded to assess smoking. Participants completed four nicotine dependence measures. Regression models assessed the relationship of dependence to cue-independent (i.e., pre-cue) and cue-specific (i.e., pre-post cue change for each cue, relative to neutral) craving and smoking (likelihood of smoking, latency to smoke, puff count). Results: Dependence was associated with background craving and smoking, but did not predict change in craving across the entire sample for any cue. Among alcohol drinkers, dependence was associated with greater increases in craving following the alcohol cue. Only one dependence measure (Wisconsin Inventory of Smoking Dependence Motives) was consistently associated with smoking reactivity (higher likelihood of smoking, shorter latency to smoke, greater puff count) in response to cues. Conclusion: While related to cue-independent background craving and smoking, dependence is not strongly associated with laboratory cue-induced craving under conditions of minimal deprivation. Dependence measures that incorporate situational influences on smoking correlate with greater cue-provoked smoking. This may suggest independent roles for CR and traditional dependence as determinants of smoking, and highlights the importance of assessing behavioral CR outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-203
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Craving
  • Cue-reactivity
  • Dependence
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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