Dissociating nicotine and nonnicotine components of cigarette smoking

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000 Sep;67(1):71-81. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(00)00301-4.


To dissociate the sensorimotor aspects of cigarette smoking from the pharmacologic effects of nicotine, smokers rated the subjective effects of nicotine-containing or denicotinized cigarettes, and intravenous (IV) nicotine or saline infusions. Three groups of participants (n=20 per group) received either: (1) continuous nicotine, (2) pulsed nicotine, or (3) saline. Each group was exposed to an IV condition once while smoking a denicotinized cigarette and once while not smoking, in a 3x2 mixed design. A fourth group (n=20) received saline while smoking their usual brand of cigarette. The dose and rate of nicotine administration were individualized based on previous measures of ad lib smoke intake. Denicotinized cigarette smoke significantly reduced craving and was rated significantly more satisfying and rewarding than the no-smoking conditions. IV nicotine reduced craving for cigarettes, and increased ratings of lightheadedness and dizziness. However, no significant satisfaction or reward was reported after IV nicotine. The combination of IV nicotine and denicotinized cigarette smoke produced effects similar to those of smoking the usual brand of cigarette. The results suggest that sensorimotor factors are critical in mediating the immediate subjective response to smoking, and that the immediate subjective effects of nicotine administered in doses obtained from cigarette smoking are subtle. Thus, addressing smokers' needs for both for the sensorimotor aspects of smoking as well as for the direct CNS effects of nicotine may be critical in enhancing smoking cessation treatment outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Euphoria / drug effects
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Sensation / drug effects
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation


  • Nicotine