In an effort to get more people to quit smoking the National Health Institute is tested cigarettes with varying levels of nicotine. A Massachusetts company has created the Spectrum brand test cigarettes with eight different levels of nicotine for research, from a nicotine content of 3 percent to 100.
The idea is to recruit smokers to use these cigarettes and see if these cigarettes encourage people to quit, or at the very least offer less inhalation of nicotine. One study of the test cigarettes will follow about 500 smokers over six months to see how it works.
Tobacco companies have concerns
Under a 2009 law the FDA could regulate tobacco levels in cigarettes.
“We really need to have good science to determine whether this might be a product standard, and to have good science, we need reduced-nicotine cigarettes,” said Dr. Hatsukami, who is also a member of the F.D.A. Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.
A new kind of cigarette
The Massachusetts company is now seeking approval from the FDA to use their low nicotine cigarettes as a stop smoking aid. It’s the first time cigarettes are being considered as a healthy alternative.
Of course the “quit smoking” market is a big one. With nicotine gum, patches, electronic cigarettes, and medications like Zyban flooding the shelves, people have many choices to help them quit.
“After 50 years of knowing cigarettes cause cancer, it’s nice to know we have a supply we can investigate,” Dr. Connolly said. “But the real issue is the F.D.A. should have begun a process two years ago to see if we can eliminate nicotine in cigarettes, at least for children. If we can put a man on the moon, we can get rid of nicotine.”