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Effect of Reduced Nicotine Content Cigarettes on the Respiratory Health


Clinical trial finds that reduced nicotine cigarettes are beneficial for respiratory health

A clinical trial has investigated the effect of reduced nicotine content cigarettes on the respiratory health of people suffering from psychiatric conditions or socioeconomic disadvantage.

Reduced nicotine cigarettes (RNCCs) have been gaining popularity as a potential tool to help smokers quit the habit. RNCCs are cigarettes with a nicotine concentration of 2.4 mg/g tobacco or lower.

Smoking causes a variety of adverse pulmonary conditions including airway inflammation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. To address the significant harms of cigarette smoking on public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed reducing the nicotine content of combustible cigarettes. The intent of this rule is to reduce the addiction potential of cigarettes, which would help prevent the uptake of cigarette smoking and facilitate quitting among current smokers. However, strong clinical studies on the respiratory health outcomes of RNCCs are limited.

Clinical Trial

A clinical trial explored the impact of reduced nicotine cigarettes on respiratory health outcomes in smokers who experience psychiatric conditions or socioeconomic disadvantage.

The trial focused on 747 adult daily smokers who reported psychiatric conditions or socioeconomic disadvantage. These participants were randomly assigned to receive three different doses of nicotine in their cigarettes (0.4, 2.4, or 15.8 mg of nicotine/g tobacco). The researchers collected data on their respiratory health outcomes, including fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) levels and self-reported respiratory symptoms via a Respiratory Health Questionnaire (RHQ) at weeks 6 and 12.

The results of the trial showed that participants who smoked reduced nicotine cigarettes had higher FeNO levels compared to those who smoked higher-dose nicotine cigarettes. FeNO is an indicator of airway inflammation, which is associated with respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is a marker of respiratory health that is sensitive to changes in smoking. FeNO levels are lower in smokers compared to non-smokers. The higher FeNO levels suggest that reduced nicotine cigarettes may be less harmful to the respiratory system than regular cigarettes.

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These effects on the FeNO levels were seen in smokers with affective disorders and socioeconomic disadvantage but less so in those with opioid use disorders. This suggests that opioid-agonist treatment alters FeNO levels itself. Additionally, no significant dose-related changes in Respiratory Health Questionnaire scores were identified.

This clinical trial adds to the growing body of research that supports the use of reduced nicotine cigarettes as a harm-reduction strategy for smokers. While quitting smoking altogether is the best way to protect respiratory health, the reality is that many smokers struggle to quit and may benefit from reduced nicotine cigarettes as a stepping stone towards quitting. The findings of this clinical study suggest that reduced nicotine cigarettes may be a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, particularly for people with psychiatric conditions and socioeconomic disadvantages.


The clinical trial demonstrates that reduced nicotine cigarettes may have a positive impact on respiratory health outcomes, particularly in vulnerable populations. The findings of this clinical study suggest that reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes may be a viable harm-reduction strategy for smokers who struggle to quit. However, it is important to remember that smoking any type of cigarette still poses a significant risk to respiratory and overall health, and smokers should continue to explore quitting options.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.