Reactions to reduced nicotine content cigarettes in a sample of young adult, low-frequency smokers.
RATIONALE: Reducing nicotine content in cigarettes to ≤ 2.4 mg per g of tobacco [mg/g] reduces smoking behavior and toxicant exposure among adult daily smokers. However, cigarettes with similar nicotine content could support continued experimentation and smoking progression among young adults who smoke infrequently. OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the threshold for nicotine in cigarettes that produces reactions associated with smoking progression in a sample of young adults who smoke infrequently. METHODS: Young adults (n = 87, 18-25 years, 49% female) using tobacco products ≤ 15 days per month completed three counterbalanced, double-blinded sessions, each measuring positive and negative subjective reactions to fixed doses of smoke from investigational cigarettes containing one of three different nicotine contents: normal (NNC; 15.8 mg/g); very low (VLNC; 0.4 mg/g); and intermediate (INC; 2.4 mg/g). In a final session, participants chose one of the cigarettes to self-administer. RESULTS: Post-cigarette breath carbon monoxide was greater for VLNC than for NNC (p < 0.001). Positive reactions were greater for NNC than INC (p < 0.001) and for INC than VLNC (p = 0.001). Negative reactions were greater for NNC than INC and VLNC (both p < 0.001); INC and VLNC did not differ. Cigarette choices did not differ from an even distribution (43% NNC, 25% INC, 32% VLNC), but choice for NNC or INC was associated with higher ratio of positive to negative reactions during the NNC and INC fixed dose sessions, respectively (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Reducing nicotine content will likely lower the abuse liability of cigarettes for most young, low-frequency smokers. Additional work is needed to determine if compensatory smoking may lead to increased toxicant exposure, and if a subset of individuals choosing lower nicotine cigarettes may continue to smoke regardless of nicotine content.
Sweitzer, MM; Pacek, LR; Kozink, RV; Locey, E; Kollins, SH; Donny, EC; McClernon, FJ
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