Reduced Nicotine Cigarettes Don't Up Smoking Intensity

Little evidence of compensatory increase in smoking; no change in smoking urges, nicotine dependence

FRIDAY, Aug. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Reduced nicotine cigarettes are not associated with increased smoking intensity versus usual brand cigarettes, according to a study published online Aug. 22 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

David Hammond, Ph.D., from the University of Waterloo in Canada, and Richard J. O'Connor, Ph.D., from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., examined changes in consumer behavior and exposure in response to reduced nicotine cigarettes. Data were included for 72 adult smokers who completed an unblinded trial of reduced nicotine cigarettes. Participants completed a seven-day baseline period, during which they smoked their usual brand of cigarettes, followed by seven-day periods smoking cigarettes with progressively lower nicotine levels (0.6, 0.3, and 0.05 mg emission cigarettes).

The researchers found that compared with usual brand smoking (~1.2 mg nicotine) there were significant reductions in nicotine intake for 0.3 and 0.05 mg nicotine emission cigarettes, but not for the 0.6 mg nicotine emission cigarettes. There was little evidence of compensatory smoking for reduced nicotine cigarettes. Across study periods there were no increases in exhaled breath carbon monoxide levels, smoking intensity, or levels of 1-hydroxypyrene. There were no significant differences in smoking urges or measures of nicotine dependence.

"The study adds to the evidence that cigarettes with markedly reduced nicotine content are not associated with increased smoking intensity or exposure to smoke toxicants," the authors write.

O'Connor has provided expert testimony for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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