Difficulties in emotion regulation and ad libitum smoking topography: A secondary analysis

Jacqueline E. Smith, Hannah R. Brinkman, Elizabeth R. Aston, Michael J. Zvolensky, Teresa M. Leyro, Samantha G. Farris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Despite the well-known linkages between poor emotion regulation and subjective smoking motives, little is known about the role of emotion regulation in predicting smoking reinforcement behavior. This study examined the relation between difficulties in emotion regulation and puff velocity data, a behavioral index of smoking reinforcement, in adult daily cigarette smokers. Method: The current study was a secondary analysis of data collected from non-treatment seeking daily smokers (N = 124). Participants completed the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) followed by an ad libitum smoking period during which puff topography data was collected via a handheld puffing device. Puff velocity served as our puff topography index and was examined at the average and puff-to-puff level using regression and multi-level models, respectively. Results: Regression analyses showed no significant association between DERS scores and average puff velocity. In contrast, multi-level modeling found a significant quadratic time × DERS effect at the puff-to-puff level, such that those with greater emotion regulation difficulties inhaled more quickly at the initiation of the cigarette, whereas those with lower emotion regulation difficulties evidenced consistent puffing over the course of the cigarette. Discussion: Smokers with greater difficulties in emotion regulation appear to smoke in a way that maximizes delivery of nicotine, perhaps to self-regulate distress. One's style of puffing may reflect a possible behavioral marker of negative reinforcement smoking, especially in the context of emotional distress. Implications: This study was the first to explore the relationship between difficulties in emotion regulation and a behavioral measure of smoking reinforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107498
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Cigarette puff topography
  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Smoking reinforcement


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