Nicotine-containing versus de-nicotinized cigarettes: effects on craving and withdrawal

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. May-Jun 1997;57(1-2):159-65. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(96)00309-7.


Nicotine exposure levels and subjective effects from smoking a de-nicotinized cigarette (Next) were examined under controlled conditions. Ten tobacco smokers smoked 20 puffs from their own brand (1.1 mg nicotine delivery, commercial cigarettes), a 0.7 mg nicotine "light" cigarette, or the Next de-nicotinized cigarette (< 0.1 mg nicotine) during independent experimental test sessions. The Next cigarette did not deliver and appreciable nicotine, did not elevate heart rate during smoking, and was rated as less satisfying than the smokers' own brand. Subjective ratings of cigarette carving and tobacco withdrawal symptoms increased during a 90 min post-smoking abstinence period. However, there were no measurable differences on these subjective ratings across the three cigarette test brands. It is concluded that nicotine can be removed from cigarettes without affecting the onset time course or intensity of cigarette cravings and other tobacco withdrawal symptoms in an acute abstinence model. Further studies to determine the subjective and physiological effects of nicotine-free cigarettes would contribute to a greater understanding of tobacco withdrawal and the processes involved in smoking maintenance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Reward
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*


  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide