Black Cigarette Smokers Report More Attention to Smoking Cues Than White Smokers: Implications for Smoking Cessation

Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Aug;17(8):1022-8. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu263.


Introduction: Black cigarette smokers have lower rates of smoking cessation compared with Whites. However, the mechanisms underlying these differences are not clear. Many Blacks live in communities saturated by tobacco advertisements. These cue-rich environments may undermine cessation attempts by provoking smoking. Moreover, attentional bias to smoking cues (attention capture by smoking cues) has been linked to lower cessation outcomes. Cessation attempts among Blacks may be compromised by attentional bias to smoking cues and a cue-rich environment.

Method: Attention to smoking cues in Black and White smokers was examined in 2 studies. In both studies, assessments were completed during 2 laboratory visits: a nonabstinent session and an abstinent session. In study 1, nontreatment-seeking smokers (99 Whites, 104 Blacks) completed the Subjective Attentional Bias Questionnaire (SABQ; a self-report measure of attention to cues) and the Smoking Stroop task (a reaction time measure of attentional bias to smoking cues). In study 2, 110 White and 74 Black treatment-seeking smokers completed these assessments and attempted to quit.

Results: In study 1, Blacks reported higher ratings than Whites on the SABQ (p = .005). In study 2, Blacks also reported higher ratings than Whites on the SABQ (p = .003). In study 2, Blacks had lower biochemical-verified point prevalence abstinence than Whites, and the between-race difference in outcome was partially mediated by SABQ ratings.

Conclusion: Blacks reported greater attention to smoking cues than Whites, possibly due to between-race differences in environments. Greater attention to smoking cues may undermine cessation attempts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Black or African American*
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / ethnology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People