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Perceptions of E-Cigarettes and Effects on Craving, Withdrawal, and Smoking Severity after Exposure to Virtual Reality Cues

Perceptions of E-Cigarettes and Effects on Craving, Withdrawal, and Smoking Severity after Exposure to Virtual Reality Cues

Principal Investigators: C. Kent Osborne and Jin Yoon

Funding Mechanism:  National Institutes of Health- Grant

ID Number: 3P30CA125123-08S2

Award Date:  7/31/2014

Institution: Baylor College of Medicine


Little is known about the behavioral, physiological, and neurobiological effects of e-cigarettes on smokers, particularly with regard to craving and withdrawal. An important target for investigation is how effective e-cigarettes are in alleviating cravings when smokers are exposed to smoking-related stimuli. Smoking cues (e.g., sight and smell of cigarettes, smoking environments, emotional states) often lead to intense episodic spikes in craving, which in turn can lead to smoking. The goal of this research is to assess smokers’ reactions to virtual reality cues -- photo-realistic and interactive environments closely resembling situations in which participants are likely to smoke in the real world. Researchers will evaluate changes in craving, smoking severity, and withdrawal symptoms in 90 cigarette smokers aged 18-55 who have never used e-cigarettes following use of either an e-cigarette or their own (preferred) cigarette brand on three separate laboratory visits. Specific aims are: (1) to evaluate the effects of e-cigarettes (0 or 18 mg) or own cigarettes on virtual reality-induced craving, perceptions, and withdrawal symptoms; (2) to evaluate the physiological effects produced by nicotine obtained by smoking e-cigarettes or own cigarettes; and (3) to evaluate the effects of e-cigarettes or own cigarettes on smoking severity (i.e., increased latency to first cigarette, fewer cigarettes chosen, puff duration, puff volume). Information generated about whether e-cigarette exposure affects smoking severity by altering craving, withdrawal, and physiological responses may be used to inform regulatory actions.