Professor Margaret Morris and Ms Hui Chen, from Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), found that any perceived loss of weight associated with smoking is most likely due to loss of lean body mass (muscle and internal organs) rather than loss of body fat.
Carried out in conjunction with the University of Melbourne, the study's findings have been published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The study found that even though tobacco-affected mice ate about 23 percent less, their fat levels were not significantly altered if they were consuming a high fat diet.
Further, in all animals that smoked, fat was deposited in the liver.
Professor Morris says the study shows that while smoking reduces appetite this is different from saying that cigarettes help to keep the body slim.
"If the findings can be applied to humans, and that's the first caveat, then this is very important research that shows that using smoking to suppress body weight gain is not going to be helpful," Professor Morris says.
"It is a very important health message that smoking does not lead to fat loss and continuing to smoke while eating a high fat diet is a very, very unhealthy thing to do."
Further collaborative work is examining the effects of smoking on muscle.