Negative mood increases smoking reinforcement and may do so to a greater degree in smokers vulnerable to negative mood dysregulation.
Adult smokers (N = 71) without current depression were randomly assigned to one of two smoking conditions (nicotine or denic cigarettes, presented blind) maintained across all sessions. Subjects completed one neutral mood session and four negative mood induction sessions. Negative mood inductions included one each of the following: 1) overnight smoking abstinence, 2) challenging computer task, 3) public speech preparation, 4) watching negative mood slides. In each session, subjects took 4 puffs on their assigned cigarette, rated it for “liking” (reward), and then smoked those cigarettes ad libitum (reinforcement) during continued mood induction. Affect was assessed intermittently before and after smoking. Differences in responses were examined as functions of self-reported history of major depression and levels of distress tolerance and anxiety sensitivity.
Smoking reinforcement, but not reward or negative affect relief, was greater in all sessions in those with a history of depression and greater after overnight abstinence in those with lower distress tolerance. Reward and affect relief, but not reinforcement, were greater during speech preparation among those high in anxiety sensitivity.
Low distress tolerance may enhance acute smoking reinforcement due to abstinence, while depression history may broadly increase acute smoking reinforcement regardless of mood. Neither smoking reward nor affect help explain these individual differences in smoking reinforcement.