Reviews of nicotine gum trials generally confirm the efficacy of this substitute in smoking cessation. However, little research has considered the efficacy of nicotine gum as a method for alleviating acute cravings in situations where smokers are not permitted to smoke. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of nicotine gum in alleviating acute cravings for cigarettes using the subjective multi-dimensional Questionnaire of Smoking Urges (QSU) and the objective progressive ratio (PR) measures of craving. Forty-five regular smokers participated in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. All participants were required to abstain from cigarettes for a period of 4 h. Fifteen of the participants were required to chew nicotine gum, 15 were required to chew placebo gum and 15 received no intervention during this abstinence period. All participants then completed the QSU, PR and mood and anxiety questionnaires. The results revealed that participants who had been in either of the gum conditions reported significantly lower QSU factor 1 and factor 2 craving scores after 4 h abstinence than those who had received no intervention. Although a significant partial correlation between QSU factor 1 and 2 scores and the number of reinforcers earned under the PR procedure was observed, the results revealed no significant difference between groups on measures of PR performance or mood and anxiety. Both nicotine and placebo gum are equally effective at reducing acute cravings for cigarettes.