Methylphenidate increases cigarette smoking

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2005 Oct;181(4):781-9. doi: 10.1007/s00213-005-0021-8. Epub 2005 Sep 29.


Rationale: Methylphenidate (Ritalin) and d-amphetamine (Dexedrine), stimulants commonly prescribed for behavioral problems associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), produce a similar constellation of behavioral effects. The results of previous studies suggest that d-amphetamine increases rates of smoking and the reinforcing effects of smoking. The effects of methylphenidate on smoking have not been assessed although it is the most commonly prescribed pharmacotherapy for ADHD and individuals with ADHD are at increased risk for smoking.

Objective: In this experiment the acute effects of a range of doses of methylphenidate (5, 10, 20, and 40 mg) and placebo were assessed in ten cigarette smokers who were not attempting to quit and were without ADHD or other Axis I psychiatric disorders.

Methods: Each dose of methylphenidate was tested once, whereas placebo was tested twice. One hour after ingesting drug, participants were allowed to smoke ad libitum for 4 h. Measures of smoking included total cigarettes smoked, total puffs, latency to the first cigarette, and carbon monoxide levels. Snacks and decaffeinated drinks were available ad libitum, and caloric intake during the 4-h smoking session was calculated.

Results: Methylphenidate dose dependently increased the total number of cigarettes smoked, number of puffs, and carbon monoxide levels. As expected, methylphenidate dose dependently decreased the number of food items consumed and caloric intake.

Conclusions: The results of this experiment suggest that methylphenidate, like d-amphetamine, increases rates of cigarette smoking.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Breath Tests
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Stimulation, Chemical


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate
  • Carbon Monoxide