New Study Shows Benefits of Reducing Nicotine in Cigarettes


Can the addictiveness of

Number of Cigarettes Smoked per Day According to Nicotine Content. The mean number of cigarettes smoked per day was based on the number reported by participants with the use of an interactive voice-response system. Panel A shows the mean total number of cigarettes smoked per day, including both study and nonstudy cigarettes. Panel B shows the mean number of study cigarettes smoked per day. All analyses were adjusted for the baseline number of cigarettes smoked per day. An asterisk indicates P

Participants also rated the subjective effects of the cigarettes. Those receiving the three lowest-nicotine cigarettes (but not the 5.8 mg/g nicotine cigarette) estimated that the nicotine content in their cigarettes was lower than a standard 15.8 mg/g cigarette, and they estimated that, at a price of $6.00 per pack, they would smoke fewer of those cigarettes per day (11) than would those smoking 15.8 mg/g cigarettes (17). Lower-nicotine cigarettes also produced lower scores on ratings of dependence and withdrawal at week 6. Participants from all groups were equally likely to complete a day of abstinence following week 6, and all had similar withdrawal scores during it, but those who had been smoking the lowest nicotine cigarettes (2.4 mg/g or under) over the previous 6 weeks had significantly lower cravings during abstinence.

Nicotine is the main rewarding chemical responsible for the addictiveness of tobacco, but it is not the ingredient that causes cancer and heart and pulmonary diseases. This raises the question whether reducing nicotine would cause smokers to compensate by smoking more–and thus backfire as a health measure. Compensatory smoking has been found with so-called “light” cigarettes, which increase the ventilation of the filter but do not decrease nicotine. The new study did not support such a concern with reduced-nicotine cigarettes: There was —> Read More