Considerable evidence indicates that smokers with family histories of smoking are less likely to be able to successfully quit smoking than smokers without family histories. The underlying biobehavioral mechanisms responsible for higher levels of persistent smoking in this population are not known. One strong candidate is suggested by a large independent body of research demonstrating that stimuli associated with smoking (e.g., the smell of cigarette smoke) can trigger powerful craving reactions, a phenomenon increasingly recognized to be a critical contributor to persistent smoking. Based on these two previously independent research literatures, we hypothesize that, compared to smokers without family histories, smokers with family histories may be more reactive to such cues. The goal of the present study is to provide the first critical test of the possibility that smokers with family histories of smoking (Family History-Positive Group, FH+) will have stronger reactions to smoking cues than smokers without such family histories (Family History-Negative Group, FH-). In addition, we will explore the possibility that smokers with family histories may be more reactive to appetitive cues in general (e.g., chocolate). Furthermore, we hypothesize that the stronger reactions to such cues in the FH+Group will be related to "real world" differences between the Groups in the ability to abstain from smoking. Finally, we propose to test Group differences in reactions to both imaginal and in-vivo cues, as each has strengths and weaknesses as a model. This initial study will employ both types of cues, and results will guide methodologies of future studies. Positive results in this initial family study of cue reactivity would provide a strong rationale for subsequent larger, family-based, prospective studies to explore the relative contributions of shared environmental effects and inherited factors. An immediate impact of this study would be to preliminarily target smokers with high levels of cue reactivity for interventions that focus on craving reduction (e.g., nicotine replacement). Larger prospective studies of cessation would be still be warranted, followed by studies assessing the efficacy of tailored or newly developed interventions informed by the early research in this program. These research goals are consistent with priorities for tobacco research set forth by the National Cancer Institute.
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