This memo gives the results of a literature search done to find how many studies have been done on changes in smoking behavior when subjects switch to low-nicotine cigarettes. Reports. Reports that "very few" studies have been done, and most were small-scale (low "N"). These reported mixed results. Some found low nicotine cigarettes were smoked faster (more frequent puffing), one found a very slight increase in the overall number of cigarettes smoked, yet another study found no change.
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:. PWJ'LIP' MORRIS U. S. A.
Mr. H. G. Daniel Date; September 15, 1976
C'. H. O'Donohue
Change in Smoking Behavior on Switching to Low-Nicotine Cigarettes
Very few studies have been done on the topic of what changes occur in
~smoking behavior when individuals switch from one level of nicotine to
another in their cigarettes. One of the earliest (Finnegan et al 1945)
studied~ 24 smokers using cigarettes with 2.08% (1.96' mg/cigt, smoke))
versus 0. 23% (0.34 mg/cigt, smoke) ihi the tobacco. For the first month
the subjects smoked their own brand and then were switched' either to the
1'ow-nilcotine cigarette (LNC), or the high-nicotine cigarette (HNC)1. It
appeared that the number of' cigarettes consumedi daily had no correlation
to the degree of nicotine i'ntake. The authors stated the sample was too,
small for any definite conclusions. .
The next reports by Firth plus Ashton and Watson in 1970 foundl that
smokers' naodified, their smoking behavior when, confronted with cigarettes
of varying nicotine levels. It was found that LNC were smoked more
rapidly (more frequent puffing) and that the HNC took a, longer time to
be smoked. The number of subjects ranged from 9 to 36.
Goldfarb and Jarvik (1974)1 studied 18 subjiects for four weeks sxnoking'
half cigareftes, i. e. , cigarettes that were either cut in hal'f' or marked'
at the midpoint. There was a slight increase in the total number of
cigarettes smoked but not significant (;p:G0.05) . They concluded that the
smoker did not try to titrate his nicotine level as' theorized by others.
Turner (19'74) with only 10, subjects found that cigarette consumption ~
increased (,p<0.01) with a switch to1LNC (0.17 to 0.6 mg/cigk). There N
was also a corresponding decrease in butt length for LNC. Russell ~
(19?4, 19'75), a proponent of the theory that LNC increases cigarette ~
consumption but is safer, in a, study with 10 subjects found the increase ~
in totaT number smoked was not statistically signi'fiica7at (t = 1.8) when ~
the subjects were switched to LNC (0.14 mg). However, on changing N
to HNC (3.2 mg) there was a 38% decrease in consumption and he
compared the difference between the HNC and LNC (t = 5.31 p<©.001) .
Within a study of 160 men followed for 20 months ('Freedman and Fletcher,,
19'76) a subset of'301 men were examined for nicotine intake. The LNC
contained 30% NSM and delivered 1 mg nicotine. The results showed no
ihcrease ! in cigarette consumption; however, on changing back to the
controls, some subjects modified their smoking, behavior to maintain
the lower nicotine intake.
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Most of the studies conducted have been on very small population sets
and the results are inconclusive. There are reports that changing to
LNC increases cigarette consumption while others state the reverse.
Thisfollows , what wa;sfound by Waingrow and Horn (1968) in anati~onal'~
sample involving 4,700 interviews:
"Of particular interest is the observation that of those
who were categorized as having shown a reduction in
their 'tar-rating' score, exactly the same number
('27.3'%) were classified as smoking more cigaretttes
as were classafied as smolang fewer cigarettes than
previously, with 45. 3% showing no change. ""
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Ashton, H., D. W. Watson (1970). Brit. Med. J. 2 679-81.
Finnegan, J. K
., P. S. Larson~ H1. B. Haag (1945). Science h 94-6..
Firth, C. D. (1'9'71) . Psychopharmacologia ('Berl. ) , 19, 188-92.
Freedman, S., C. M. Fletcher (1976). Brit. Med. J. 1 1427-30..
Goldfarb, T. L., M. E. Jarvik (1972). Intl. J. Addictions 7(3), 559-65.
Russell, M. A. H. (1974). Lancet l 254-8.
' Ibid, C'. Wilson et al (19'76) . Brit. Medi. J. 2 414-6.
Ibid (1976), Brit. Medl. J. 1 1430-3.
Turner, J. A. M.,, R. W. Sillett, K. P. Ball (1974). Lancet 2 73'7-9.
Waingrow, S., D. Horrn, (1968). Natl. Cancer Monograph 28, 29-33'.