Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Reduced-Nicotine Cigarettes Cut Dependence

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Reduced-Nicotine Cigarettes Cut Dependence

Article excerpt

FROM NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE

Reduced-nicotine cigarettes decreased tobacco dependence and the number of cigarettes smoked, with very little evidence of withdrawal or compensatory smoking, in a preliminary study reported online recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Moreover, study participants who smoked very-low-nicotine cigarettes for the 6-week study were twice as likely to report that they attempted to quit 1 month later, compared with participants who smoked their usual brand or control cigarettes that had the usual nicotine content.

Reduced-nicotine cigarettes differ from "light" cigarettes in that the latter don't actually reduce the nicotine content of the tobacco but instead increase ventilation of the cigarette--a strategy that is often circumvented by smokers who cover the ventilation holes or increase the number of cigarettes they smoke, said Eric C. Donny, Ph.D., of the department of psychology, University of Pittsburgh, and his associates.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently was granted the authority to reduce, but not eliminate, nicotine in cigarettes if such action were deemed likely to benefit public health. However, no large-scale clinical trials have yet been performed to assess the potential benefit to public health.

Dr. Donny and his associates, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products, conducted a double-blind, randomized trial at 10 sites comparing cigarettes with five levels of nicotine content among 839 adult smokers who were not planning to quit in the near future.

The study participants were assigned to smoke their usual brand of cigarettes (118 study subjects); control cigarettes containing the usual 15.8 mg of nicotine/g of tobacco (119 subjects); or experimental reduced-nicotine cigarettes containing 5.2 mg/g of nicotine (122 subjects), 2.4 mg/g (119 subjects), 1.3 mg/g (119 subjects), or 0.4 mg/g (242 subjects).

All the cigarettes were provided free of charge, and the smokers were paid for participating in the study. The dropout rate was only 8% at week 6 and did not differ significantly among the study groups.

The primary outcome--the average number of cigarettes smoked per day during week 6--was markedly higher with the usual-brand group (22. …

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