For many people, finding a way to quit smoking is one of the greatest challenges. But a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine offers a new idea - restrict smokers to very low nicotine cigarettes.
The study says that smokers restricted to very low nicotine cigarettes will not smoke more, nor inhale more deeply, to get the same addictive hit.
A clinical trial part of the study showed that tobacco dependence of longtime smokers who were assigned to smoke cigarettes with less than 15 percent of the nicotine in standard cigarettes was dropped by as much as 20 percent.
The trial also showed that smokers getting their usual dose of nicotine did not reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked daily.
Timothy Baker and Dr. Michael Fiore, researchers at the University of Wisconsin wrote in a commentary published with the study that a sweeping reduction of nicotine in smoked tobacco is "the most promising regulatory policy option" available for preventing the premature deaths of at least 20 million smokers.
Participants in the study were not told how much nicotine was in the cigarettes they received. However, many longtime smokers who got very-low-nicotine cigarettes were clever to identify the reduction.
But that wasn't surprising, researchers said.
With the addictive properties, nicotine also "contributes to that 'hit' in the back of the throat" when a smoker inhales, they added.