The public needs to be educated about the fact that while nicotine is addictive, it is “..not the main cause of the diseases caused by smoking.”
Surveyed as part of an International Tobacco Control (ITC) study, the findings were published in the journal Tobacco Regulatory Science. The researchers found that as long as nicotine is available in alternative products, 80% of the participants support the reduction of nicotine in combustible cigarettes. Additionally, almost three-quarters of the smokers surveyed, said that they would be interested in trying very low or nicotine-free cigarettes.
The main study author of the New Zealand part of the study, and co-director of the ASPIRE 2025 smoke-free research group, Professor Richard Edwards, said that this research highlights the importance of considering innovative measures that could contribute to achieving the Smokefree Aotearoa goal.
“Removing nicotine from cigarettes and tobacco would mean cigarettes were no longer addictive. Smokers would find it much easier to quit and would be much less likely to relapse back to smoking after quitting. It would also greatly reduce the risk of adolescents and young people becoming addicted to smoked tobacco products in the first place.”
Any measure which could decrease smoking rates should be considered
Professor Edwards pointed out that at the moment smoking cessation efforts in New Zealand tend to be focused on the use of e-cigarettes and other NRTs. However, he added, any measures that could help should be considered. “This includes making smoked tobacco products less addictive, palatable and available.”
Another interesting finding from the survey, was that while the vast majority of participants were aware that nicotine is the addictive component in cigarettes, almost half also believed that nicotine is the main cancerous chemical in them. To this effect, pointed out Edwards, raising awareness is essential. “This should include efforts to increase understanding that nicotine, although highly addictive, is not the main cause of the diseases caused by smoking.”