Acute smoking behavior (i.e., puff topography) and subjective responses during the ad lib smoking of a single cigarette in the laboratory may provide useful measures of smoking reinforcement and reward, respectively. However, the reliability of such measures is not clear, leaving uncertain the utility of a single assessment of smoking behavior as an individual difference measure.
Dependent smokers (N = 94) smoked normally prior to each of 4 laboratory sessions during which they were instructed to smoke 1 cigarette of their preferred brand in ad libitum and unblinded fashion and then rate it for subjective effects. Puff topography (puff number, total volume, and maximum volume) was assessed via portable Clinical Research Support System device. Subjective reward and perception were assessed by visual analog scales of “liking” and “how strong,” respectively. The reliability of puff topography and subjective measures was determined across days by intra-class correlations (ICCs). Differences due to sex and nicotine dependence (high and low Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence score) were also examined.
Reliability was highly significant for each measure. ICCs were .70 for total puff volume, .60 for maximum puff volume, .73 for puff number, .64 for liking, and .78 for how strong. Reliability generally did not differ by sex or dependence, but absolute values for total volume and maximum puff volume were greater in men and in high dependent smokers. Liking was also greater in high dependent smokers.
Puff topography and subjective measures during the ad lib smoking of a single cigarette are highly reliable. Smoking responses during a single ad lib smoking session may be useful in identifying stable individual differences in smoking reinforcement and reward.