Nicotine and carbon monoxide intake from high- and low-yield cigarettes

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1984 Aug;36(2):265-70. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1984.173.


We measured daily nicotine intake in 11 habitual smokers who smoked their usual brand or commercial high-yield (Federal Trade Commission [FTC] yield 1.2 mg nicotine, 16 mg tar) or low-yield (0.4 mg nicotine, 5 mg tar) cigarettes. Daily nicotine intake was measured from metabolic clearance data in conjunction with blood and urinary concentrations of nicotine during 24-hr smoking periods. On the average, subjects consumed 35 mg nicotine while smoking their usual cigarettes and 26 mg while smoking either high- or low-yield commercial cigarettes different from their usual brand. This level of nicotine consumption from low-yield cigarettes was because smokers obtained 60% more nicotine per cigarette than predicted by FTC yield and they smoked 25% more cigarettes a day. Although there was considerable variability in nicotine intake between subjects, there was a correlation within subjects between intake while smoking their usual brand and experimental cigarettes. Nicotine intake between the two commercial high- or low-yield cigarettes also correlated (r = 0.86). These findings are consistent with a minimal level of acceptable daily intake of nicotine for individuals that is related to usual intake. We suggest that our protocol provides a better quantitative estimate of the yield of different cigarette brands and potential health hazards than those currently provided by the FTC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Monoxide / administration & dosage*
  • Carboxyhemoglobin / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Nicotine / blood
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking*
  • Tobacco*


  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Carboxyhemoglobin