, Volume 189, Issue 2, pp 201-210
Date: 30 Sep 2006

Modeling the effect of alcohol on smoking lapse behavior

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The primary aim of this project was to examine the role of alcohol use in smoking lapse behavior, as alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for poor smoking cessation outcomes.

Materials and methods

We have developed a novel human laboratory model to examine two primary aspects of alcohol-mediated tobacco relapse: (1) Does alcohol facilitate the initiation of the first cigarette? (2) Once the first cigarette is initiated, does alcohol facilitate subsequent smoking? Using a within-subject design, 16 daily smokers who were also heavy social drinkers received a priming drink (0.03 g/dl or taste-masked placebo) and then had the option of initiating a tobacco self-administration session or delaying initiation by 5-min increments for up to 50 min in exchange for monetary reinforcement. Subsequently, the tobacco self-administration session consisted of a 1-h period in which subjects could choose to smoke their preferred brand of cigarettes using a smoking topography system or receive monetary reinforcement for cigarettes not smoked. Alcohol craving, tobacco craving, subjective reactivity to alcohol, and nicotine withdrawal were assessed as secondary outcomes.


Results demonstrated that after consuming the alcohol beverage, subjects were less able to resist the first cigarette and initiated their smoking sessions sooner, and smoked more cigarettes compared to the placebo beverage. These findings have implications for smoking cessation in alcohol drinkers and model development to assess smoking lapse behavior.