(No) escape from reality? Cigarette craving in virtual smoking environments

Gert-Jan de Bruijn*, Joost de Vries, Reinout Wiers, C.A.W. Bolman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Cue-Exposure Therapy (CET) is considered an effective strategy to combat cigarette cravings and smoking relapses, but evidence is mixed. In this lab-based experimental study, we manipulated levels of realism for smoking scenarios in Virtual Environments (VE) and randomly exposed smokers and recent-quitters to one of two versions (low versus high realism) of these scenarios. Prior and after scenario exposure, valid measures of cigarette craving were obtained. Prior to exposure, we assessed nicotine dependence and smoking status (current smokers versus recent-quitter). Within-subject repeated measures analysis of covariance showed that there was an interaction of experimental condition with smoking status on cigarette craving. Amongst recent-quitters, high realistic scenarios produced stronger increases in craving than low realistic scenarios, but this effect was reversed in current smokers. It is concluded that VE technologies are a potentially relevant tool for smoking CET that warrant further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-143
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Virtual reality
  • Cue exposure
  • Smoking
  • Craving
  • Experiment
  • CUES


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