MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dorothy K. Hatsukami, Ph.D.
Forster Family Professor in Cancer Prevention
Professor of Psychiatry
Associate, Director Masonic Cancer Center
University of Minnesota
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a rule that would reduce nicotine in all cigarettes and possibly other burned tobacco products sold in the U.S. to minimally addictive levels. Reducing nicotine in cigarettes does not make the cigarette safer, but because nicotine is the addictive chemical in tobacco, nicotine reduction would reduce the progression towards tobacco dependence and make it easier for smokers to quit smoking. We recently published a study in JAMA that adds to the accumulating evidence to support reducing nicotine in cigarettes and addresses if a gradual reduction or a targeted immediate reduction in nicotine in cigarettes is the best approach.
In a large clinical trial involving 1,250 smokers across 10 academic institutions, immediate reduction of nicotine was compared to a gradual nicotine reduction approach. These two groups were also compared to smokers who continued to smoke usual nicotine content cigarettes.
Key findings showed that immediate nicotine reduction is likely to result in more rapid positive public health effects. That is, smokers in the immediate reduction group experienced significantly less exposure to toxic cigarette smoke chemicals and reported smoking fewer cigarettes per day, less dependence on cigarettes and greater number of days that they were smoke-free compared to the other two groups. On the other hand, smokers in the immediate nicotine reduction group experienced more severe but transient withdrawal symptoms and greater drop-outs. Continue reading