Abstract

The present study examined several pharmacological and behavioral treatments designed to promote extinction of the responses to rewarding cigarette smoke cues. Pharmacological treatments comprised nicotine skin patches (21 mg/24 hr) and the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist mecamylamine (10 mg/day), administered separately or in combination. Behavioral manipulations included switching to denicotinized cigarettes, to cigarettes having different menthol flavor, or to ventilated-filter (low tar and nicotine) cigarettes. Smokers were assigned to the various treatments for 2 weeks before they quit smoking. During weekly test sessions, subjects rated the rewarding effects of their usual brands of cigarettes or cigarettes with different menthol content (mentholated vs. nonmentholated). Over the 2-week treatment period, all pharmacological treatments reduced ratings of reward for the usual-brand test cigarettes. Switching to smoking denicotinized cigarettes for 2 weeks similarly decreased rewarding effects of the usual-brand test cigarettes. Subjects also strongly preferred cigarettes with the same menthol content to which they were accustomed. However, manipulating the menthol content of the cigarettes smoked during the 2 weeks of treatment had different effects, depending on whether smokers habitually smoked mentholated or nonmentholated cigarettes. For menthol smokers, removal of the menthol cue hampered extinction of reward ratings for the usual-brand (mentholated) test cigarette. For nonmenthol smokers, addition of the menthol cue did not affect the progress of extinction of nonmenthol smoke cues. These findings demonstrate the importance of sensory cues in determining subjective reward and show that the reward value of these cues can be altered by removal of nicotine from tobacco or by pharmacological manipulations that interfere with the reinforcing effects of nicotine.