Adult and adolescent smokers regulate their nicotine and smoke intake by smoking low-yield cigarettes more intensely than high-yield cigarettes. One likely mechanism of nicotine regulation is altered puffing topography, which has been demonstrated in adult smokers. The purpose of this study was to examine the pattern of puffing behavior during the smoking of a single cigarette in adolescents.
Tobacco-dependent adolescents (n = 89) were enrolled in a treatment trial testing the efficacy of nicotine replacement therapy. About 1 week before their quit date, participants smoked ad libitum one of their usual brand of cigarettes during a laboratory session. Smoking topography measures included puff volume, puff duration, puff velocity, and interpuff interval.
Controlling for sex, race, and number of puffs, puff volume and puff duration decreased 12.8% and 24.5%, respectively, from the first 3 to the last 3 puffs. Puff velocity and interpuff interval increased 14.8% and 13.5%, respectively. Puff volume was positively correlated with puff duration and puff velocity, whereas puff duration and puff velocity were negatively correlated. However, none of the topography measures were correlated with smoking history variables.
These results suggest that adolescent smokers, like adults, are able to regulate smoke and nicotine intake on a puff-by-puff basis, therefore indicating that this aspect of smoking control is acquired early in the tobacco-dependence process.