Sex differences in the subjective and reinforcing effects of visual and olfactory cigarette smoke stimuli

Nicotine Tob Res. 2001 May;3(2):141-50. doi: 10.1080/14622200110043059.


Although nicotine intake clearly reinforces cigarette smoking behavior, non-nicotine smoke stimuli may become conditioned reinforcers of smoking. In Study 1, we compared the acute subjective and reinforcing effects of cigarette smoking in men and women under two conditions: blockade of visual and olfactory/taste smoke stimuli vs. no blockade. Subjective hedonic ratings of 'like puffs' and 'satisfying', but not 'strength', 'high in nicotine', or CO boost, were significantly reduced under the blockade vs. no blockade conditions. During subsequent ad lib puffing, significantly fewer puffs were self-administered under the blockade condition, particularly among women. In Study 2, we examined the influences of these stimuli separately and found that olfactory/taste stimuli, but not visual stimuli, reduced hedonic ratings and puff self-administration in women but not in men. In Study 3, procedures similar to those in Study 1 were used to examine whether this sex difference in responses to conditioned stimuli generalizes to a non-drug consummatory behavior, eating (pizza). However, hedonic ratings and ad lib consumption of pizza were substantially reduced in both men and women following blockade of visual and olfactory/taste food stimuli. These results indicate that the presumably conditioned stimuli of olfactory/taste from cigarette smoke may influence subjective hedonic ratings and reinforcement from smoking more in women than in men. However, this sex difference may not generalize beyond smoking or other drug reinforcement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smell*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Perception*