Gender effects on mood and cigarette craving during early abstinence and resumption of smoking

Nicotine Tob Res. 2008 Nov;10(11):1653-61. doi: 10.1080/14622200802412929.


Women are more likely than men to relapse after initiating abstinence from cigarette smoking. The reasons for this phenomenon are unclear but may relate to negative mood, cigarette craving, or other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. We addressed this issue in a study of 26 female and 38 male smokers. The Profile of Mood States, Shiffman-Jarvik Withdrawal Scale, and Urge to Smoke Scale were administered twice in each of two test sessions on different days. One session began within 1 hr after smoking ad libitum and the other followed overnight abstinence (>13 hr). On each test day, the two assessment blocks were separated by a 5-10-min break, during which each participant smoked one cigarette. In the first test block, both men and women reported higher scores after >13 hr abstinence than after <1 hr abstinence on the tension-anxiety and anger-hostility subscales of the Profile of Mood States, and for the craving and psychological symptoms of the Shiffman-Jarvik Withdrawal Scale. Scores of female subjects showed significantly larger differences between sessions on the tension-anxiety subscale and a trend toward significance (p = .050) on the anger-hostility subscale of Profile of Mood States than those of males. Moreover, on the tension-anxiety subscale, women also reported a greater reduction than men from smoking one cigarette after overnight abstinence. The findings indicate that overnight abstinence produces more negative mood symptoms and cigarette craving in female smokers than in males, and that resumption of smoking produces greater relief from these symptoms in female smokers. These differences may contribute to the greater likelihood of relapse when women try to quit smoking.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology*