A notable reduction in nicotine content in cigarettes appeared to significantly reduce smoking, nicotine exposure and nicotine dependence in adults who smoke, according to results of a randomized, double blind clinical trial.
The double-blind, parallel clinical trial, conducted at 10 sites between 2013 and 2014, randomly assigned adults to smoke for 6 weeks either their usual brand of cigarettes or one of six types of investigational cigarettes that were provided for free. These cigarettes had nicotine levels ranging from 15.8 mg per gram of tobacco to just 0.4 mg per gram.
According to the report, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day in week 6 for participants assigned to the cigarettes with the lowest levels of nicotine was lower than that for participants smoking their regular cigarettes or investigational cigarettes with higher levels of nicotine.
Compared with the control cigarettes, the cigarettes with lower levels of nicotine decreased exposure to and dependence on nicotine and also craving during abstinence from smoking. Overall, adverse events were fairly mild and similar across the groups. The research was funding by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
An Perspective piece accompanying the study asserts that “reducing the nicotine content of combustible tobacco to levels that will not sustain dependence seems to us to be the most promising regulatory policy option for preventing” the estimated 20 million premature deaths that might occur in the United States if people continue to smoke.