Smoke and mirrors: magnified beliefs that cigarette smoking suppresses weight

Addict Behav
Article in Press, Accepted Manuscript 2007

Marney A. White, a, Sherry A. McKee,a and Stephanie S. O'Malley,a

aDepartment of Psychiatry, Yale Psychiatric Research, Yale University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 208098, 301 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT. 06520, United States


Research suggests that for some smokers, weight concerns interfere with smoking cessation. Studies with individuals with eating disorders and weight concerns have indicated that weight-concerned individuals place undue faith in the effectiveness of certain weight control strategies; i.e., adopt a brand of magical thinking pertaining to food rules and dieting behaviors. The current study investigated whether weight-concerned smokers endorsed exaggerated beliefs in the ability of smoking to suppress body weight. Participants were 385 individuals undergoing treatment for smoking cessation. Prior to treatment, participants completed the Smoking Consequences Questionnaire –Adult (SCQ-A), the Dieting and Bingeing Severity Scale, and the Perceived Risks and Benefits Questionnaire (PBRQ). Results indicated that heightened beliefs in the effectiveness of smoking to control weight were related to eating and weight concerns; specifically, strong associations were observed between SCQ-A Weight Control scores and fear of weight gain, loss of control over eating, and body dissatisfaction. Although SCQ-A Weight Control scores were related to (self-reported) weight gain during a previous quit attempt, scores did not predict actual weight gain over the course of the cessation trial. Reported weight gain at previous attempts was also unrelated to actual weight gain over the current trial. These findings indicate that eating and weight concerned smokers may benefit from psychoeducation concerning the relatively modest and temporary ability of nicotine to suppress weight.