Smoking, pain tolerance, and physiological activation

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1983;79(2-3):193-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00427811.


The effects of tobacco smoking and beta-blockade on psychophysiological measures, i.e., heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), skin conductance (SC), and sensitivity to electrical pain stimulation was studied in a group of 33 male moderate smokers. Using a method of limits threshold determination technique, measures of pain threshold (PT), and tolerance level (TL) were obtained. The results were analyzed in relation to smoking habits, personality measures, and subjective effects. There was no significant effect of smoking on pain sensitivity. Smoking caused a physiological activation as indicated by an increase in HR and systolic BP. beta-Blockade counteracted the smoking-induced increase in HR and systolic BP, but did not influence PT or TL. Subjective effects of smoking were not affected by beta-blockade. The findings suggest that physiological activation is not related to effects of smoking on pain.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Personality
  • Smoking*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists