Introduction: Persistent tobacco use among racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States is a critical public health concern. Yet, potential sources of racial/ethnic disparities in tobacco use remain unclear. The present study examined racial/ethnic differences in tobacco withdrawal-a clinically-relevant underpinning of tobacco use that has received sparse attention in the disparities literature-utilizing a controlled laboratory design.
Methods: Daily smokers (non-Hispanic African American [n = 178], non-Hispanic white [n = 118], and Hispanic [n = 28]) attended two counterbalanced sessions (non-abstinent vs. 16-hour abstinent). At both sessions, self-report measures of urge, nicotine withdrawal, and affect were administered and performance on an objective behavioral task that assessed motivation to reinstate smoking was recorded. Abstinence-induced changes (abstinent scores vs. non-abstinent scores) were analyzed as a function of race/ethnicity.
Results: Non-Hispanic African American smokers reported greater abstinence-induced declines in several positive affect states in comparison to other racial/ethnic groups. Relative to Hispanic smokers, non-Hispanic African American and non-Hispanic white smokers displayed larger abstinence-provoked increases in urges to smoke. No racial/ethnic differences were detected for a composite measure of nicotine withdrawal symptomatology, negative affect states, and motivation to reinstate smoking behavior.
Conclusions: These results suggest qualitative differences in the expression of some components of tobacco withdrawal across three racial/ethnic groups. This research helps shed light on bio-behavioral sources of tobacco-related health disparities, informs the application of smoking cessation interventions across racial/ethnic groups, and may ultimately aid the overall effort towards reducing the public health burden of tobacco addiction in minority populations.
Implications: The current study provides some initial evidence that there may be qualitative differences in the types of tobacco withdrawal symptoms experienced among non-Hispanic African American, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white smokers. Extending this line of inquiry may elucidate mechanisms involved in tobacco-related health disparities and ultimately aid in reducing the public health burden of smoking in racial/ethnic minority populations.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com.