A new study has suggested that reducing the addictive nicotine in cigarettes can help people to smoke less and feel more motivated to quit.
Reduced-nicotine cigarettes were beneficial in reducing nicotine exposure and dependence, and also the number of cigarettes smoked per day, when compared with standard-nicotine cigarettes in the study.
It is the first large-scale clinical trial to examine the effects of reduced-nicotine cigarettes on smoking behavior and exposure to products contained within cigarette smoke, according to study co-investigator Hilary Tindle of the Vanderbilt Center for Tobacco, Addiction and Lifestyle (ViTAL).
Tindle added that this new evidence suggests benefit, but more research is needed.
Study participants who used reduced nicotine cigarettes decreased cigarette use and had lower levels of nicotine exposure and dependence, Tindle said, adding that the study did not directly address tobacco-related morbidity or mortality and it is critical to understand that this study was not designed to test quitting smoking.
Tindle said reduced-nicotine cigarettes may be a way to potentially lessen the harm that smokers experience from cigarettes by decreasing the number of cigarettes that they smoke per day or potentially playing a role in quitting smoking altogether.
Under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA has the authority to reduce nicotine in cigarettes if it benefits public health.
If the FDA is to make such a determination, it requires evidence to support or refute the hypothesis that reduced-nicotine cigarettes are beneficial to public health, Tindle said.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.