Aims: To determine the topography of cigarette smoking and the subjective and physiological effects of abstinence and nicotine in adolescents who smoke on a daily versus a non-daily basis.
Design: Repeated measures experiment, non-blinded, involving a single test session.
Setting: Human psychopharmacology laboratory.
Participants: Twenty-one daily and 21 non-daily adolescent cigarette smokers (21 females; 21 males; age 13-18 years) with life-time use greater than 10 cigarettes, responding to radio and print advertisements.
Intervention: Overnight abstinence from cigarettes followed by smoking of a single cigarette furnished by the participant at test.
Measurements: The Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence, saliva nicotine and cotinine, expired air carbon monoxide (CO), heart rate (HR), self-report scales and smoking topography. Most measurements were performed before and after smoking.
Findings: Saliva nicotine, CO and HR increased, and self-reported intention and desire to smoke decreased, after smoking (p < 0.001). Fagerstrom scores indicated greater dependence and desire to smoke in daily than in non-daily smokers. HR increased substantially over pre-smoking levels in both groups. Puff topography did not differ between the groups, although collectively these participants appeared to take smaller and more puffs than adult smokers tested under similar conditions.
Conclusion: This study provides initial evidence that adolescent cigarette smokers self-administer physiologically active doses of nicotine very early in their smoking careers. Nicotine dependence in adolescents appears to be a function of the current frequency of cigarette use, and subjective-behavioral consequences of abstinence and smoking are evident even in non-daily smokers.