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Moffitt Cancer Center Researchers Find That Smoking May Restore Tapped-Out Self-Control Resources

{I smoke pipes and cigars because I find smoking helps me
focus and receive inspiration. Pipe and cigar smokers puff, but do not inhale. I avoid cigarettes because they require inhalation to be effective and because of the additives and chlorinated paper, many of which are known carcinogens.]

TAMPA, Fla. (March 19, 2012) - Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., have found that when they deplete a smoker's self control, smoking a cigarette may restore self-control.

The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology (Vol. 121, No.1), exposed a test group and a control group - totaling 132 nicotine dependent smokers - to an emotional video depicting environmental damage. One group in the study expressed their natural emotional reactions (no depletion of self-control) while the second group suppressed their responses (self-control depletion). Half of the participants in each group were subsequently allowed to smoke a cigarette. Everyone then was asked to complete a frustrating task that required self-control.

"Our goal was to study whether tobacco smoking affects an individual's self-control resources," said lead author Bryan W. Heckman, M.A., a graduate student at the Moffitt Tobacco Research and Intervention Program and the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida. "We hypothesized that participants who underwent a self-control depletion task would demonstrate less persistence on behavioral tasks requiring self-control as compared to those with self-control intact, when neither group was allowed to smoke. However, we also hypothesized that we would not find this performance decrement among participants who were permitted to smoke."

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