Want to quit smoking? Low nicotine cigarettes might be the answer. Researchers have found that when cigarettes with substantially lower nicotine levels can be used to encourage smokers to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke per day.
The cigarettes used in the study went much further than light and ultralight cigarettes, which actually have the same amount of nicotine as other cigarettes, but are flavored differently and in some cases have thicker filters. These light cigarettes have proven to be rather ineffective. Instead, the cigarettes had substantially lower nicotine levels.
Researchers used 840 people who smoked at least five times a day. Those involved in the test had no expressed interest in quitting smoking. The test subjects were randomly asked to either smoke their usual brand of cigarettes, or to smoke one of six experimental cigarettes. The test was conducted over six weeks. Nicotine levels varied from the usual commercial brand levels of about 15.8 mg per gram, to .4 mg per gram.
Those who smoked cigarettes with substantially lower nicotine cigarettes ended up smoking 23 to 30 percent fewer cigarettes per day. Interestingly, the reduction came even though the test subjects were not looking to quit smoking.
Those who smoked cigarettes with 5.2mg of nicotine saw only slight reductions in the amount they smoked, suggesting that cigarettes had to be substantially lower in nicotine in order for the reduction to take place.
The new study stands in contrast to a past study that showed that low nicotine cigarettes did not help people quit smoking. Researchers involved in the study, however, suggested that low nicotine cigs in combination with other methods to quit smoking might be more effective. The study did find, however, that low nicotine cigarettes did help people reduce the number of cigarettes people smoked per day.
The tests were conducted at ten different sites between June of 2013 and July of 2014.
The CDC has estimated that 42.1 million Americans smoke.