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Epidemiological and large scale treatment studies within smoking research have utilized many one-item screening items to examine the influence of current depressive symptoms on smoking behavior and quitting. Little is known about that concurrent validity of screening items that may reflect depression vulnerability independent of current symptoms. The present paper evaluated the concurrent validity of two one-item screening items that were essential for diagnosing past episodes of major depression. Screening questions were administered to seventy seven nicotine dependent participants via a telephone screening interview. Smokers then returned to the laboratory for a comprehensive structured assessment of depressive vulnerability. Vulnerability measures were clinician diagnosed history of major depressive disorder and other self-reported depressive vulnerability factors. Telephone screening items accurately classified a clinician-diagnosed history of major depression, and predicted the number of recurrent depressive episodes, self-reported rumination, and self-reported depression-proneness (all p<0.05). Results support the utility of one-item screening questions as a “proxy” of a depressive vulnerability for smoking treatment studies that are not designed for comprehensive assessment procedures.