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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Happiness as a Buffer of the Association Between Dependence and Acute Tobacco Abstinence Effects in

Monday, November 13, 2017  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Liautaud MM, Leventhal AM, Pang RD.
Happiness as a Buffer of the Association Between Dependence and Acute Tobacco Abstinence Effects in African American Smokers.
Nicotine Tob Res. 2017 Sep 27. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntx216. [Epub ahead of print]
African-American (AA) smokers are at disproportionate risk of tobacco dependence, utilizing smoking to regulate stress, and poor cessation outcomes. Positive emotional traits may function as coping factors that buffer the extent to which dependence increases vulnerability to adverse responses to acute tobacco abstinence (i.e., tobacco withdrawal). This laboratory study examined subjective happiness (SH; dispositional orientation towards frequent and intense positive affect [PA] and life satisfaction) as a moderator of the relation between tobacco dependence and subjective and behavioral abstinence effects among AA smokers. AA smokers (N=420, 39.0% female) completed self-report measures of tobacco dependence and SH followed by two counterbalanced experimental sessions (non-abstinent vs. 16-hr abstinent) involving self-report measures of composite withdrawal, urge to smoke, and mood, and a behavioral smoking task in which participants could: (a) earn money to delay smoking reinstatement, and (b) subsequently purchase cigarettes to smoke. Tobacco dependence was positively associated with increased abstinence effects in composite withdrawal, urge to smoke, PA, and latency to smoking reinstatement (ps<.04). SH significantly moderated the relation between dependence and abstinence-induced increases in composite withdrawal (β =-.17, p<.001), such that the predictive power of dependence on withdrawal severity grew proportionately weaker as levels of SH increased. SH may insulate against adverse effects of dependence on withdrawal during acute smoking abstinence, particularly withdrawal symptom clusters that are craving- and mood-based. Consideration of positive emotional traits as stress-coping factors in the dependence-withdrawal link may be warranted in research and practice with AA smokers. The current study contributes to a growing body of literature examining the potentially advantageous role of positive emotional traits to smokers. We do so by identifying a relatively understudied psychological construct within tobacco research-subjective happiness-that may suppress the extent to which more severe tobacco dependence increases risk for subjective withdrawal-related distress during acute smoking abstinence in African American smokers. In doing so, the study provides a primer for future targeting of subjective happiness and other positive emotional traits as means to understand and treat acute tobacco abstinence effects among dependent African American smokers.

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