A study comparing the effects of cigarettes with varying levels of nicotine content has found that smokers who switched to lower-nicotine versions ended up smoking less and experiencing reduced craving during non-smoking periods.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the six-week study with 780 completers found that use of cigarettes containing 2.4, 1.3 and 0.4 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco led to reduced daily consumption and less craving (the highest nicotine content in six investigational cigarettes used in the study was 15.8 mg per gram of tobacco, an amount that reflects what is found in many commercial brands). Adult smokers in the study, all of whom had not expressed a desire to quit, either remained on their usual brand of cigarettes or were switched to one of the investigational types.
The daily smoking average in study week 6 for individuals who stayed with their preferred brand was 22.2 cigarettes. While those who switched to the 2.4-, 1.3- and 0.4-mg cigarettes did not come close to quitting altogether, their daily consumption during week 6 was considerably lower than that of the higher-nicotine cigaretrte users (at 16.5, 16.3 and 14.9 cigarettes, respectively).
The study in essence found that users of the lower-nicotine cigarettes did not resort to smoking more cigarettes in order to offset the reduced nicotine exposure. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).