Purpose: Recent findings suggest a link between facultative melanin and nicotine dependence among African Americans. We hypothesized that tanning capacity is associated with the time to first cigarette (TTFC) of the day. Methods: Using a criterion based sample of 150 adult African American current smokers, reflectometer measures of constitutive and facultative melanin, tanning capacity, smoking status and history, saliva cotinine, sociodemographic characteristics, and stress and discrimination scales were recorded. TTFC was categorized as: 1) within the first 5 min versus more than 5 min; and 2) within the first 30 min versus more than 30 min. Descriptive and multivariate analyses were conducted. Results: Analysis revealed significantly higher tanning capacity among individuals who smoked their first cigarette of the day within the first 5 min of awakening (13.5) than among those who smoked after 5 min (10.3, p = 0.01) and among those who smoked within the first 30 min (12.8 vs. 9.6, p = 0.03) compared to those who initiated after this time point. Multivariate logistic regression indicated that tanning capacity was significantly and positively related (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.05–1.22) to TTFC within the first 5 min and was also significantly related to TTFC within the first 30 min (OR = 1.13, CI = 1.03–1.23). Conclusion: Tanning capacity was positively associated with a behavioral measure of nicotine dependence among African American smokers. This association was consistent whether comparing smokers at higher or lower levels of dependence. Future research should examine tanning capacity and other indicators of melanin content with smoking cessation rates and tobacco-attributable health disparities.
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