Introduction: Experimental cigarettes are needed to conduct studies examining the effects of varying doses of nicotine content on smoking behavior. The National Institute on Drug Abuse contracted with Research Triangle Institute to make such cigarettes available to researchers. The goal of this study was to determine whether cigarettes that vary in nicotine content produce an expected dose-response effect.
Method: Two studies were conducted. The first study recruited subjects from 3 sites and consisted of a single, within-subject laboratory session. Subjects first smoked 4 puffs on their usual-brand cigarette and then in double-blind, random-order, smoked 4 puffs on each experimental cigarette that contained either low nicotine (LN, 0.4 mg/g), intermediate nicotine (IN, 5.7-5.8 mg/g), or high nicotine (HN, 11.4-12.8 mg/g). Each puffing bout was separated by a 30-min interval. Subjects completed questionnaires and were assessed for vital signs after each cigarette. The second study involved 1 site and used a between-subject design in which subjects were assigned to 1 of the 3 experimental cigarettes for 1 week. Subjective responses and biomarkers of exposure were assessed.
Results: In the first study, significant dose-response effects were observed, particularly between the LN and HN cigarettes. The second study showed decreases in cigarette smoking and exposure biomarkers predominantly in the LN group, with no changes in the HN cigarette group.
Conclusions: These results are similar to those observed in prior literature, confirming that these experimental cigarettes can be used safely and with the expected pharmacological effects.