Effects of Nicotine on the Reinforcing Value of Alternatives to Eating in Animals and Humans

Richards | Epstein
This pilot study examined whether nicotine can reduce the reinforcing value of food and increase the value of using alternatives to food in smoking cessation.

A primary motivation to continue smoking for many smokers is appetite suppression and weight regulation, and many smokers overeat and gain weight when they quit smoking. Research has shown that one effect of nicotine is to increase the value of alternative reinforcers in animals and humans, which is called the reinforcement enhancing effect. Thus, when a person stops smoking, they lose the reinforcing value associated with smoking, as well as the value of behaviors that were paired with smoking. This is especially important for low education/low income individuals as they have lower quit rates, which may be due in part to limited access to alternatives to smoking. This grant studied whether nicotine can reduce the relative reinforcing value of food while increasing the reinforcing value of alternatives to food. This research will lead to both pre-clinical and clinical research that tests whether enhancing alternatives to nicotine can reduce withdrawal symptoms and facilitate abstinence, while not leading to enhanced eating and weight gain.

Principal Investigator
Jerry Richards, PhD
Research Institute on Addictions

Leonard Epstein, PhD
Department of Pediatrics
University at Buffalo

Funding Agency
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)

Grant Number