Reduced nicotine content cigarettes: effects on toxicant exposure, dependence and cessation

Addiction. 2010 Feb;105(2):343-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02780.x.


Aims: To examine the effects of reduced nicotine cigarettes on smoking behavior, toxicant exposure, dependence and abstinence.

Design: Randomized, parallel arm, semi-blinded study. Setting University of Minnesota Tobacco Use Research Center.

Interventions: Six weeks of: (i) 0.05 mg nicotine yield cigarettes; (ii) 0.3 mg nicotine yield cigarettes; or (iii) 4 mg nicotine lozenge; 6 weeks of follow-up. Measurements Compensatory smoking behavior, biomarkers of exposure, tobacco dependence, tobacco withdrawal and abstinence rate.

Findings: Unlike the 0.3 mg cigarettes, 0.05 mg cigarettes were not associated with compensatory smoking behaviors. Furthermore, the 0.05 mg cigarettes and nicotine lozenge were associated with reduced carcinogen exposure, nicotine dependence and product withdrawal scores. The 0.05 mg cigarette was associated with greater relief of withdrawal from usual brand cigarettes than the nicotine lozenge. The 0.05 mg cigarette led to a significantly higher rate of cessation than the 0.3 mg cigarette and a similar rate as nicotine lozenge.

Conclusion: The 0.05 mg nicotine yield cigarettes may be a tobacco product that can facilitate cessation; however, future research is clearly needed to support these preliminary findings.

Trial registration: NCT00777569.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavior, Addictive
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / metabolism*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Nicotinic Agonists / metabolism*
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Tobacco Use Disorder
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine

Associated data