Reducing nicotine content in cigarettes may decrease their addiction potential in vulnerable populations, says a study. The research team examined the addiction potential of cigarettes with reduced nicotine content in three vulnerable populations of smokers — individuals with psychiatric disorders (affective disorders, opioid-use disorder), and socio-economically disadvantaged women.
“Evidence in relatively healthy and socially stable smokers indicates that reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes reduces their addictiveness,” said lead researcher Stephen Higgins, Professor at University of Vermont in the US.
“Whether that same effect would be seen in populations highly vulnerable to tobacco addiction was unknown,” Higgins said. The new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, is “the first large, controlled study to examine the dose-dependent effects of cigarettes with reduced nicotine content on the reinforcing effects, subjective effects, and smoking topography of vulnerable populations”, according to the study’s authors.
The study ran between March 2015 and April 2016 and included 169 daily smokers, including 120 women and 49 men. “This study provides a very encouraging indication that reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes would help vulnerable populations,” Higgins said.