A new study backs the FDA’s recent recommendation that the nicotine levels in cigarettes should be lowered to “non-addictive” levels.
Those who are more vulnerable to nicotine addiction and usually underrepresented in studies — psychiatric disorder sufferers, including people who have opioid-use disorder and socioeconomically disadvantaged women — might benefit the most from lowered levels.
“Evidence in relatively healthy and socially stable smokers indicates that reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes reduces their addictiveness,” Stephen Higgins, author of the study published by JAMA Psychiatry, told Science Daily.
Out of 169 smokers studied, the research noted that 56 of them had an affective disorder, 60 were dependent on opioids and 53 were considered socioeconomically disadvantaged women. In a series of stages throughout the study, the volunteers were given a cigarette with the current average level of nicotine in it as well as a study cigarette with a lower dose. The research also factored in price: the participants’ usual brand of cigarettes versus the study’s cheaper smokes.
Although participants preferred the cigarettes with more nicotine, they were satisfied enough with the lower dose, cheaper product offered by the study because these specific groups of society consider cost to be an important enough factor.
“This study provides a very encouraging indication that reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes would help vulnerable populations,” Higgins said. “We need more research, but this is highly encouraging news with tremendous potential to improve U.S. public health.”
It’s important to remember that even if the FDA’s recommendation passes and nicotine levels in cigarettes are lowered, the tobacco products are no less harmful to your health.
“Cigarettes will still do all the terrible things to you that we know them to do,” Weill Cornell pulmonologist Dr. Ronald Crystal told the Daily News. “You’ll still be at high risk for diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema and not only lung cancer but bladder, throat, mouth and tongue cancers among others.”