Development of a Measure of the Latency to Needing a Cigarette

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Tobacco Use Disorder; Nicotine; Smoking Cessation; Smoking; Substance Withdrawal Syndrome


Community Health | Preventive Medicine


Purpose: People addicted to smoking experience a recurrent physiologic need to smoke anytime when they go too long without smoking. Our purpose was to evaluate the reliability and concurrent validity of a measure of the time elapsed between completion of smoking one cigarette and experiencing the need to smoke another (the latency to needing a cigarette—LTNC). We also investigated the relationship between the LTNC and dependence-related symptoms.

Methods: An anonymous, self-administered survey was completed by 134 current adolescent smokers, and in a separate study, 32 smokers were asked to complete a retest.

Results: A frequent need to smoke was reported by 84.3% of the current smokers. Consistent with published case histories, the duration of the LTNC varied widely between the individuals. Among subjects who reported a regular need to smoke, 48% reported that their LTNC had shortened over time. The median LTNC among subjects who had smoked≥100 cigarettes (p < .001). Test-retest reliability was reported to be excellent (r = .85, p < .001). As expected, LTNC correlated moderately and inversely with daily cigarette consumption (ρ = −.53, p < .001). It also correlated inversely with cue-induced craving (ρ = −.64, p < .001), psychological reliance on cigarettes (ρ = −.43, p < .001), nicotine withdrawal (ρ = −.57, p < .001), and pleasure obtained from smoking (ρ = −.39, p < .001).

Conclusion: The data obtained in this study support the reliability and concurrent validity of the LTNC measure.

DOI of Published Version



W.W. Sanouri A. Ursprung, Paola Morello, Bernice Gershenson, Joseph R. DiFranza, Development of a Measure of the Latency to Needing a Cigarette. Journal of Adolescent Health. Available online 2 September 2010. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.07.011.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Adolescent Health