This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Brief Abstinence Test for College Student Smokers: Testing the Utility of a Novel Choice Task




Irons, Jessica

Type of Degree





Cigarette smoking among college students is prevalent and correlated with other unhealthy behaviors. Reinforced abstinence (e.g., contingency management) has been demonstrated to be an effective method for reducing substance use in a variety of populations and across a variety of drugs, including cigarettes. Reinforced abstinence has seldom been used with a college student population, in part, because of the costs associated with such programs. Indeed, monetary incentives for abstinence are typically arbitrarily derived and not empirically determined. The current study implemented a choice procedure for empirically assessing optimal incentive levels for brief abstinence among college student smokers and tested the task using a Brief Abstinence Test (BAT). The choice procedure, called the Reinforcer Preference Task (RPT), posed monetary rewards (e.g., one dollar) of a range of magnitudes and asked participants (N = 15) whether they would abstain from smoking for some time period (e.g., 1 day) if paid that monetary reward. Dollar amounts ranged from $1 - $1024 and time periods ranged from 1 hour to 1 month. As time periods of proposed abstinence increased, dollar values associated with those time periods increased. The efficacy of this task was tested by using the data from the RPT to determine the monetary value used in a Brief Abstinence Test and to predict participant success in that test. A BAT has been used to effectively reduce cocaine use among methadone maintenance patients (Robles, Silverman, Preston, Cone, Katz, Bigelow, & Stitzer, 2000). However, no published studies have investigated the use of a BAT to reduce the use of cigarettes. The current study found that the BAT is a useful tool for abstinence initiation among some college smokers, as 42% of the sample met abstention criteria during the BAT.