Nicotine dependence - how long until first cigarette after awakening..

December 3, 2009 - It's a known fact that smokers who light up shortly after getting out of bed in the morning are likely more physically dependent on nicotine. Nicotine dependence has been defined as smoking one's first cigarette of the day within 30 minutes of awakening.

A Penn State College of Medicine study found that those who prefer to smoke with the sunrise have much higher levels of cotinine - a byproduct of nicotine when processed by the body - than those who wait to smoke, regardless of the numbers of cigarettes smoked by the end of the day.

Joshua Muscat, professor of public health sciences, said the study, published this week in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Preventions, shows that the number of cigarettes smoked during the day matters less than the intensity (smoked quickly and inhaled deeply) with which they are smoked.

"There is only a moderate correlation between the number of cigarettes they smoke and their cotinine levels," said Muscat. "The other factor may be the intensity of smoking . . . People who smoke immediately after they wake up are more intense smokers and it is a big predictor of their cotinine levels."

The study examined 252 healthy cigarette smokers. Muscat said the study's findings could point the way to more effective tailoring of tobacco cessation programs.

Reference: Morning cigarette key indicator of intense nicotine dependence, Calgary Herald -
Canwest News Service, 12/2/2009.