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Smoking abstinence tough for teens, too
Date:9/12/2012

he study consumed about nine cigarettes a day and had been smoking for about two years.

The researchers made the psychological measurements using standardized methods at two sessions with each group. For the abstainers the first session occurred before abstention and the second occurred during it. The researchers measured the smokers' expired carbon monoxide levels in breath samples at the first session to establish a baseline and again at the second session to confirm whether abstinence, or continued smoking, had indeed occurred.

Confounding cravings

Among the team's findings was the surprising degree to which abstaining teens felt cravings even when presented with supposedly neutral cues. Their measured craving levels, even when "provoked" with cues as innocuous as a pencil and pad of paper, were about as high as when they were shown overt smoking cues, such as a lit cigarette of their favorite brand.

"They came in and their craving and negative affect were already high," Colby said.

What the researchers observed, therefore, was not that abstaining teens have an elevated level of craving when shown smoking cues versus neutral ones, but that their craving level is elevated almost regardless of experimental cues. But when the researchers compared abstainers to peers who either don't smoke at all, or who didn't have to stop smoking, the abstainers did exhibit a stronger "peak" reaction from smoking-specific cues than the other teens did.

Teen treatment

Ultimately, Bidwell and Colby hope the research will inform efforts to make smoking cessation and withdrawal treatment more effective for teens. Would it help, they ask, if treatment tried to mitigate these measurable difficulties of abstaining?

"Our findings point to withdrawal, urge (both un-cued and peak provoked), and negative affect (both un-cued and peak provoked) as candidate mediators for treatment efficacy in adolescents and
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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