Prolonged exposure to denicotinized cigarettes with or without transdermal nicotine

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009 Sep 1;104(1-2):23-33. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.01.021. Epub 2009 May 15.


Sensorimotor smoking stimuli are important determinants of cigarette use. The present study aimed to determine whether denicotinized cigarettes lose their reinforcing and/or subjective effects over a 9-day outpatient period when they are smoked with or without concurrent transdermal nicotine. After a preferred brand baseline, 68 participants were randomized into one of four conditions based on the dose (mg) of transdermal nicotine and the type of cigarettes (dose/cigarette): 0/nicotine, 0/denicotinized, 7/denicotinized, and 21/denicotinized. Under placebo patch conditions, participants smoked a similar number of nicotine and denicotinized cigarettes and no group differences emerged over repeated testing. The total volume of smoke inhaled was lower in the denicotinized group, although this decrease dissipated over time. Denicotinized cigarettes were rated as having low positive and high negative subjective effects. Compared to placebo, transdermal nicotine decreased the number of denicotinized cigarette smoked, produced a lasting decrease in the total volume of denicotinized cigarette smoke inhaled, but had little effect on the subjective effects of denicotinized cigarettes. Transdermal nicotine attenuated withdrawal during initial smoking abstinence; however, once participants were allowed to smoke withdrawal symptoms were relatively low regardless of patch condition. The persistent use of denicotinized cigarettes may result from the presence of nicotine withdrawal and/or the degree to which smoking becomes somewhat independent of the outcome of the behavior (i.e., habit learning). Additional studies would be useful to determine what factors drive continued use of denicotinized cigarettes, whether their use subsides as withdrawal dissipates, and whether they address motives for smoking distinct from current pharmacotherapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Aged
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Nicotine / therapeutic use*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Administration
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide