Naturalistic assessment of demand for cigarettes, snus, and nicotine gum

Jeffrey S. Stein, A. George Wilson, Mikhail N. Koffarnus, Michael C. Judd, Warren K. Bickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Rationale: Behavioral economic measures of demand provide estimates of tobacco product abuse liability and may predict effects of policy-related price regulation on consumption of existing and emerging tobacco products. Objective: In the present study, we examined demand for snus, a smokeless tobacco product, in comparison to both cigarettes and medicinal nicotine. We used both a naturalistic method in which participants purchased these products for use outside the laboratory, as well as laboratory-based self-administration procedures. Methods: Cigarette smokers (N = 42) used an experimental income to purchase their usual brand of cigarettes and either snus or gum (only one product available per session) across a range of prices, while receiving all products they purchased from one randomly selected price. In a separate portion of the study, participants self-administered these products during laboratory-based, progressive ratio sessions. Result: Demand elasticity (sensitivity of purchasing to price) was significantly greater for snus than cigarettes. Elasticity for gum was intermediate between snus and cigarettes but was not significantly different than either. Demand intensity (purchasing unconstrained by price) was significantly lower for gum compared to cigarettes, with no significant difference observed between snus and cigarettes. Results of the laboratory-based, progressive ratio sessions were generally discordant with measures of demand elasticity, with significantly higher “breakpoints” for cigarettes compared to gum and no significant differences between other study products. Moreover, breakpoints and product purchasing were generally uncorrelated across tasks. Conclusions: Under naturalistic conditions, snus appears more sensitive to price manipulation than either cigarettes or nicotine gum in existing smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Cigarettes
  • Demand
  • Nicotine gum
  • Progressive ratio schedules
  • Snus
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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