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 TrialA 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.