A new study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine finds lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes led smokers to smoke fewer cigarettes. The study was short, just six weeks, so the authors say it should be viewed as preliminary. But they do say it does support the approach of lowering nicotine levels to help smokers quit.
We asked Cliff Douglas, vice president of tobacco control, about the study, and he shared these thoughts.
“This is a quality study from well-respected researchers, who address the significant research question of how reductions in nicotine in cigarettes could affect addiction and tobacco use.
“The study adds to earlier findings that reductions of nicotine in cigarettes could reduce the number of cigarettes smoked and nicotine dependence.
“The tobacco industry has itself recognized for decades that, as a leading Phillip Morris scientist stated in 1972, ‘Without nicotine… there would be no smoking.’ Tobacco manufacturers recognized that the elimination of tobacco addiction would fundamentally undercut their business and transform the tobacco epidemic.
“The study lends support for additional scientific review of the effects of reducing nicotine in tobacco products on nicotine addiction, tobacco product use, and tobacco-related diseases and death. It underscores the need to take a comprehensive approach to nicotine addiction, including all kinds of tobacco products given the market variety and potential for compensatory behaviors, to reduce widespread addiction to lethal tobacco products, ensure the protection of consumers, and avoid unintended public health consequences.”
If you’re a smoker trying to quit, see this new article by senior news editor Stacy Simon: How to Quit Smoking.