Reduced nicotine content cigarettes and nicotine patch

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Jun;22(6):1015-24. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1439. Epub 2013 Apr 19.


Background: Reduced nicotine content (RNC) cigarettes have led to smoking fewer cigarettes, withdrawal relief, and facilitation of cessation. The aim of this study is to examine the effects RNC cigarettes with and without nicotine patch and patch alone on smoking behavior, toxicant exposure, withdrawal discomfort, and as an exploratory analysis, on long-term abstinence.

Methods: This study involved a randomized, parallel arm design and six weeks of: (i) 0.05-0.09 mg nicotine yield cigarettes (N = 79); (ii) 21 mg nicotine patch (N = 80), or (iii) 0.05-0.09 nicotine yield cigarettes with 21 mg nicotine patch (N = 76); all groups received six weeks of additional behavioral treatment with follow-ups up to six months.

Results: Combination approach led to lower rates of smoking assigned cigarettes and hence lower carbon monoxide levels than RNC cigarettes alone. In addition, the combination approach was associated with less withdrawal severity when switching from usual brand to assigned product, and less smoking of usual brand cigarettes during treatment, but not after treatment compared with the other approaches.

Conclusion: Combining very low nicotine content cigarettes with nicotine patch may improve the acute effects resulting from switching to either of these products alone.

Impact: These findings may have implications for smoking cessation treatment or a policy measure to reduce nicotine content in cigarettes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / metabolism*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Nicotinic Agonists / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco Products / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine