Smoking topography in a nonlaboratory environment

Dorothy Hatsukami, Steven F. Morgan, Roy W. Pickens, John R. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The relationships between the number of cigarettes smoked/day and the number of puffs/cigarette, puff duration, and total puff time/cigarette were studied. Data were collected on 12 regular smokers for all cigarettes smoked over a 3-day period in a nonlaboratory environment. Between-subject variability was substantial on each of the topographical measures. Neither the number of cigarettes smoked per day nor the classification of Heavy (> 25 cigarettes/day) vs Moderate (< 25 cigarettes/day) smoking levels was related to the intensity with which cigarettes were smoked. Within-subject consistency on the topography measures indicates that smokers may have relatively unique smoking patterns. Most studies of smoking in the natural environment employ number of cigarettes/day as their estimate of smoke exposure. However, total smoke exposure is determined by an interaction of various topographical features, including frequency (number of cigarettes/day, number of puffs/cigarette), durational (puff duration, interpuff interval, intercigarette interval), and volumetric (puff volume, inhalation volume) components. Employing cigarettes/day to estimate smoke exposure assumes a consistent relationship between cigarettes/day and other topographical features which contribute to total smoke exposure, but it is not clear that such a relationship exists. Laboratory studies of smoking behavior have found that cigarette frequency may vary independently of these other topographic components of smoking, lichtenstein and Antonuccio (1981) examined smoking topography in 24 male smokers while they smoked a cigarette during two 45-minute sessions. They found that cigarette rate was significantly related to intercigarette interval, but not to puff frequency, puff duration, cigarette duration, and amount of tobacco burned. Results found in laboratory settings, however, have been found not to necessarily generalize to nonlaboratory environments. For example, OssipKlein, Martin, Lomax, Prue, and Davis (1983) examined six subjects smoking adlib in three settings: natural, clinical, and laboratory. They found that cigarette durations were shorter and that subjects took significantly longer and more puffs in a clinical or laboratory setting compared to a naturalistic setting. Thus, examination of the relationship between topographical features in naturalistic smoking would appear to require direct study outside the laboratory. The present study is to our knowledge the first to examine topographical features of smoking and the relationship between number of cigarettes smoked/ day and other measures of smoking topography while the subject smoked ad-lib in a nonlaboratory environment. This information would potentially be important in examining the extent of individual differences in smoking topography, in assessing the extent to which cigarettes/day is related to other aspects of smoking behavior, and in determining whether categorizing smokers into smoking groups (e.g., moderate and heavy) on the basis of number of cigarettes/day accurately reflects the amount of total smoke exposure/day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-725
Number of pages7
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1987

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