Low-nico­tine cig­a­rettes cut use, de­pen­dence, study finds

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

A new study might help the push for reg­u­la­tions to limit nico­tine in cig­a­rettes. Smok­ers who switched to spe­cial low-nico­tine ones wound up smok­ing less and were more likely to try to quit, re­searchers found.

The study only lasted six weeks, and re­searchers call the ev­i­dence pre­lim­i­nary. But they say it’s the first large study to show that slash­ing nico­tine, per­haps be­low an ad­dic­tion thresh­old, is safe and leads to less smok­ing.

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion was given the power in 2009 to man­date lower nico­tine lev­els if it would help public health, but has not yet done so.

“This, I think, pro­vides sup­port” for low­er­ing nico­tine, said one study leader, Dr. Neal Benowitz of the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco.

“What our study shows is that it’s fea­si­ble,” and that peo­ple won’t smoke more reg­u­lar cig­a­rettes to com­pen­sate, he said.

Re­sults are in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine. The FDA and the Na­tional In­sti­tute on Drug Abuse paid for the study. Two study lead­ers have ad­vised com­pa­nies that make smok­ing ces­sa­tion aids, and two tes­ti­fied in to­bacco law­suits.

Smok­ing is a lead­ing cause of heart dis­ease and can­cer. Tar and other sub­stances in­haled through smok­ing make cig­a­rettes deadly, but the nico­tine in to­bacco is what makes them ad­dic­tive.

Some ear­lier work sug­gests they might not be if nico­tine was lim- ited to roughly 0.7 mil­ligrams per gram of to­bacco. Most cig­a­rettes con­tain around 15.8 mil­ligrams per gram of to­bacco. There are no low-nico­tine cig­a­rettes on the mar­ket; the gov­ern­ment made spe­cial ones with sev­eral lower nico­tine lev­els to test.

“We wanted to see how much lower it would need to be to see that ef­fect,” where de­pen­dence did not hap­pen or was di­min­ished, said another study leader, Dr. Eric Donny, a Univer­sity of Pittsburgh psy­chol­o­gist.

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