Pleasant olfactory cues can reduce cigarette craving.

Cigarette craving is a cardinal feature of smoking, which is the leading preventable cause of death. Despite its clinical relevance, there remains a pressing need to develop new approaches for controlling craving. Although olfactory cues (OCs) are especially well suited to reduce affectively charged cravings, there has been surprisingly little research on the topic. We investigated the strategic use of OCs to reduce cigarette craving. Abstinent smokers (N = 232) initially sampled and rated a series of OCs. Participants then were exposed to in vivo smoking cues, which produced robust cigarette cravings. During peak craving, they were randomly assigned to sniff one of three types of OCs (all of which they had previously sampled) while their craving, and a set of responses thought to be associated with craving, were assessed. OCs that a participant had rated as pleasant reduced craving more than did exposure to odor blank (i.e., neutral) or tobacco-related OCs. This effect persisted over the course of 5 min. In addition, smokers with the most specific autobiographical memory systems were most responsive to the craving-reducing effects of pleasant OCs. About 90% of participants reported they could imagine using a pleasant OC to curb their craving in the natural environment. The present data suggest that OCs show promise for controlling cravings and highlight the need to conduct further research to test whether OCs may prove useful alone or in combination with existing approaches as a smoking cessation intervention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)