On Friday the 28th of July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation, which included lowering the amount of nicotine in cigarettes in order to minimize addiction.
VLNCs (very low nicotine cigarettes), will contain nicotine at levels that do not produce physiological effects, therefore will be delivering the same amount of harmful chemicals without the benefits perceived by the smoker.
Vulnerable groups responded well to VLNCs
In this double-blind study, the researchers assessed adult smokers who are either socioeconomically disadvantaged, suffer from affective disorders, or are dependant on opioids.
The participants were given cigarettes with a range of nicotine levels below the assumed threshold level that leads to addiction, and then their craving levels were compared to those observed via regular cigarettes.
The results of this study indicate that reducing the level of nicotine in cigarettes, leads to a decreased level of addiction. This suggests that reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes could be effective, at least among vulnerable groups.
In line with this, in an article published last week on The Hill, harm reduction policy manager for the R Street Institute, Dr. Carrie Wade, said that data suggests that smokers given VLNCs do in fact smoke less and report fewer cravings, therefore low nicotine cigarettes may help in the smoking cessation process amongst those wishing to quit.
More research about effects of nicotine levels on general population required
However, she added, there isn’t enough data available on their effect on those who have no intention of quitting. Therefore, the products may be effective as smoking cessation tools, and may prevent adolescents experimenting with cigarettes from becoming addicted to smoking. However, they may have adverse effects on seasoned smokers who have no intention of quitting. “Reducing the nicotine content fundamentally changes cigarettes to literal ‘cancer sticks’,” said Wade.
“Before those in both the tobacco control and tobacco harm reduction communities advocate for such a drastic shift in the tobacco landscape, it is imperative that we first consider the ethics of VLNCs.” she concluded.
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