No effect of cigarette smoking on attention or mood in non-deprived smokers

M. Herbert, J. Foulds, C. Fife-Schaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Aim. This study aimed (a) to assess whether smoking reduces anxiety when paired with a pleasant distractor and (b) to investigate the effect of smoking a cigarette on cognitive performance in non-deprived smokers. Design. Participants were allocated randomly to four conditions in a 2×2 factorial design: 1, Smoke + Distractor; 2, Smoke + No Distractor; 3, No Smoke + Distractor; 4, No Smoke + No Distractor. Setting. University psychology department (University of Surrey, UK). Participants. Forty-five volunteer cigarette smokers (mean consumption = 16 cigarettes per day) allowed to smoke normally prior to the study. Intervention. Participants were either allowed to smoke a cigarette of their choice in a manner of their choosing or not allowed to smoke, either with or without a concurrent distractor (a music video). Measurements. Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVIP) performance was measured via computer before and after a 10-minute break (during which the interventions took place). Mood was measured by (a) State Anxiety Inventory (SAI) and (b) Feeling State Questionnaire (FSQ), before and after the first RVIP task and then immediately after the break/cigarette. Findings. The RVIP task produced a significant increase in both measures of anxiety (SAI and FSQ stress subscale). Smoking, when paired with a distractor, did not decrease anxiety compared with when no distractor was present. Furthermore, smoking did not decrease anxiety or increase attentional (RVIP) performance compared with not smoking. Conclusion. The findings of this study failed to support the idea that smoking has anxiety-reducing or attention-enhancing properties in non-abstinent smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1349-1356
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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