Time to first cigarette (TTFC) after waking is an indicator of nicotine dependence. The association between TTFC and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the third leading cause of death in the United States, has not yet been reported.
We investigated the cross-sectional association between TTFC and prevalent COPD among 6,108 current smokers in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. COPD was defined as a self-reported diagnosis of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or both. Current smokers in PLCO reported TTFC, the amount of time they typically waited before smoking their first cigarette of the day after waking, in four categories: ≤5, 6-30, 31-60, or >60 minutes. We used logistic regression models to investigate the association between TTFC and prevalent COPD with adjustments for age, gender, race, education, and smoking (cigarettes/day, years smoked during lifetime, pack-years, age at smoking initiation), and prior lung cancer diagnosis.
COPD was reported by 19% of these 6,108 smokers. Individuals with the shortest TTFC had the greatest risk of COPD; compared to those with the longest TTFC (>60 minutes) the adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for COPD were 1.48 (95% CI, 1.15-1.91), 1.64 (95% CI, 1.29-2.08), 2.18 (95% CI, 1.65-2.87) for those with TTFC 31-60 minutes, 6-30 minutes, and ≤5 minutes, respectively (P-trend <0.0001). The association between TTFC and emphysema was similar to that for bronchitis, albeit the ORs were slightly stronger for chronic bronchitis; comparing TTFC ≤5 minutes to >60 minutes, the adjusted OR (95% CI) was 2.29 (1.69-3.12) for emphysema and 2.99 (1.95-4.59) for chronic bronchitis.
Current smokers with shorter TTFC have increased risk of COPD compared to those with longer TTFC, even after comprehensive adjustment for established smoking covariates. Future epidemiologic studies, including prospective designs, should incorporate TTFC to better assess disease risk and evaluate the potential utility of TTFC as a COPD screening tool for smokers in the clinical setting.