Background: Evidence supports phenomenological, clinical, epidemiological and biological links between problem/pathological gambling and tobacco use. An improved understanding of the relationship would be helpful in treating individuals with co-occurring pathological gambling and nicotine dependence.
Methods: This study investigates the tobacco use behaviors of 225 adults (mean age +/- SD = 47.3 +/- 11.0 years; number of women = 120 [53.3%]) who were recruited for pharmacological treatment of pathological gambling. All subjects met criteria for pathological gambling based upon the Structured Clinical Interview for Pathological Gambling (SCI-PG), a DSM-IV-based diagnostic interview, and were assessed at baseline with multiple reliable and valid measures of gambling severity.
Results: 159 (70.7%) subjects were either current (n = 110; 48.9%) or prior daily smokers (n = 49; 21.8%). Compared with the group of never smokers, the group of current and prior daily smokers was more likely to be older (F = 3.55; df = 2, 222; p = 0.030), be female (chi square = 10.85; df = 2; p = 0.004), and have stronger urges to gamble (F = 128.15; df = 2,222; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Daily tobacco use in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers is common and associated with more severe urges to gamble. Treatments targeting urges in individuals with pathological gambling and current or prior daily tobacco use should be examined.