Psychology Sample Case Study on Research Priorities in Tobacco Control

Research Priorities in Tobacco Control


There are more than ten million smokers in the world who would wish to quit smoking but find it hard to stop smoking. Sarafino & Smith (2014) suggests, “Cigarette smoking increases the level of nicotine and carbon dioxide in the blood and thereby accelerates and stresses the cardiovascular system.” It is critically important for smokers and practitioners alike to realize that, although people smoke mostly for nicotine, they die from the non-nicotine chemicals in the tobacco. Alternatively, the nicotine in cigarettes is what causes people to become dependent on smoking, but it is dozens of the 4,000 constituents in tobacco smoke other than nicotine that cause virtually all the damaging health effects of smoking, especially cancer. These harmful constituents include carbon monoxide; hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde; vinyl chloride; benzene; benzopyrene; nitrogen oxide; inorganic compounds such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead; and volatile nitrosamines, but do not include nicotine. About 500 of these constituents are gases that make up most of the smoke, and 3,500 are particular matter or tiny particles, that collectively are referred to as tar (Weiner, 2003). Nicotine appears as very small droplets than can be absorbed in the lungs after inhalation of the smoke.  Cardiac complications also remain the primary concern with rapid smoking (Wills, 2011).  Significant literature has been developed, indicating that tobacco smoking increases the heart rate, carboxyhemoglobin and other blood gases, and blood nicotine levels.

Research Design

For this research, a cognitive orientation that assumes that meanings and beliefs guide behavior will be applied. A cognitive orientation measures four cognitive contents concerning smoking: beliefs about norms, beliefs about goals, beliefs about self, and the general beliefs. This strategy will be found predictive of the subsequent smoking reduction at post treatment and short-term follow-up. The sample size will comprise college students, young guys in the village, medical cases in patients with smoking-related diseases and a control group that will consist of the nonsmokers. This study will also try to assess the relationship between the smoking and social drinking. This step will entail assessing the impacts of the alcohol and coffee towards the lives of the smokers. In this study, experiments on the detoxified alcohols will be conducted in the laboratory experiments in the presence of placebo solutions.  

In this research, there are two models that could suitably fit for analytical work: Abstinence and Rate Data. The parameter for measuring smoking, in this case, is the rate data. The rate data typically use days as the unit of time and are often expressed as a percentage of baseline smoking. Conversely, abstinence gives the measure of the subjects not smoking (Ogden, 2012). However, it is important to recognize that the two indexes have different metric properties that yield different implication for measurement in research and service settings.

Hypothetical Results

Casual observation as well as clinical work with smokers, suggests that smoking is related to alcohol and coffee consumption. Experimental data confirms these relationships. The smoking behavior of detoxified alcohols was observed in a residential laboratory setting under conditions of ethanol or placebo solution consumption. Ethanol consumption was found to increase smoking from 26% to 170% in the five subjects observed, and the ethanol effect was replicated 15 times in a within-subject design. It would be useful to study the covariation between alcohol consumption and smoking in normal, social drinkers in either laboratory or naturalistic setting. Retrospective interview data indicate that alcohol consumption is frequently associated with relapse.

College student smokers were found to increase their rate significantly when provided with coffee. In the second experiment, subjects receiving either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee smoked more than subjects in a no-coffee or water-drinking control group. In an unconstrained environment of sodium bicarbonate or ascorbic acid, the smoking rates from successive experiments would be recorded higher in the presence of coffee. The latter substances would affect urinary pH levels, which have been shown to affect smoking rates. When coffee was pitted against nicotine, through preloading subjects or depriving them, preload affected cigarette smoking, but the coffee manipulation effect was not significant.

Daily observations and clinical experiences also a point to the importance of another person’s smoking as a variable driving the smoking habit. “Exposure to other smokers in a small-group setting induces significantly more light smokers than heavy smokers to smoke” (Harari & Legge, 2001). From a within subject design, it was observed that high smoking rate model induced significantly more smoking compared with a low smoking rate model. The


To provide effective counseling for smoking cessation, practitioners must have a solid understanding of the health consequences of smoking and the nature of tobacco dependence. Knowledge of the serious health consequences of smoking is essential so that practitioners can present information that will help enhance their patient’s motivation to quit. Similarly, an understanding of tobacco dependence will help practitioners recognize the intractability of dependence and realize the persistence required of them to help smokers quit permanently. The underpinning of dependence also provides a rationale for the various components of effective treatment that addresses both the pharmacological (nicotine) and nonpharmacological (psychological) factors that promote smoking.


Harari, P., & Legge, K. (2001). Psychology and health. Oxford: Heinemann.

Ogden, J. (2012). Health Psychology: A textbook. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

Sarafino, E. P., & Smith, T. W. (2014). Health Psychology: Biopsychosocial Interactions

Weiner, I. B. (2003). Handbook of Psychology: 9. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Wills, J. (2011). Vital Notes for Nurses: Promoting Health. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.