Regulation of craving by cognitive strategies in cigarette smokers

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Jan 1;106(1):52-5. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.07.017. Epub 2009 Sep 11.


Cigarette craving is an important contributor to cigarette smoking, and clinical approaches that focus on regulation of craving are effective in reducing rates of relapse. However, a laboratory model that targets the use of cognitive strategies to regulate craving is lacking. To develop such a model, twenty heavy cigarette smokers (>12/day), twenty-two tobacco "chippers" (<6/day), and twenty non-smoking controls completed this outpatient study, during which they were presented with photographs of cigarettes and foods that have been previously shown to induce craving. During each trial, participants were instructed to think of the stimulus in one of two ways: by focusing either on the short-term consequences associated with consuming the item (e.g., it will taste good) or on the long-term consequences associated with regular consumption (e.g., I may get lung cancer). Participants reported significantly reduced food cravings when focusing on the long-term consequences associated with eating. For cigarette-smoking participants, cigarette craving was significantly reduced when focusing on the long-term consequences associated with smoking. This latter finding confirms clinical data and extends it by highlighting the importance of cognition in the modulation of craving. Future studies using this laboratory model could test the efficacy of different cognitive strategies and develop targeted interventions for smoking cessation based on the regulation of craving.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cues
  • Eating / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Young Adult