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Nicotine reduction revisited: science and future directions
  1. Dorothy K Hatsukami1,
  2. Kenneth A Perkins2,
  3. Mark G LeSage3,
  4. David L Ashley4,
  5. Jack E Henningfield5,
  6. Neal L Benowitz6,
  7. Cathy L Backinger7,
  8. Mitch Zeller8
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  4. 4National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  5. 5Pinney Associates, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  6. 6Department of Medicine and Bioengineering & Therapeutic Science, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  7. 7Tobacco Control Research Branch, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland, USA
  8. 8Pinney Associates, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dorothy K Hatsukami, University of Minnesota, Tobacco Use Research Center, 717 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414, USA; hatsu001{at}


Regulation of nicotine levels in cigarettes and other tobacco products is now possible with the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) in 2009, giving the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products, and with Articles 9-11 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Both regulatory approaches allow establishing product standards for tobacco constituents, including nicotine. The FSPTCA does not allow nicotine levels to be decreased to zero, although the FDA has the authority to reduce nicotine yields to very low, presumably non-addicting levels. The proposal to reduce levels of nicotine to a level that is non-addicting was originally suggested in 1994. Reduction of nicotine in tobacco products could potentially have a profound impact on reducing tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. To examine this issue, two meetings were convened in the US with non-tobacco-industry scientists of varied disciplines, tobacco control policymakers and representatives of government agencies. This article provides an overview of the current science in the area of reduced nicotine content cigarettes and key conclusions and recommendations for research and policy that emerged from the deliberations of the meeting members.

  • Nicotine reduction
  • nicotine addiction
  • tobacco performance standards
  • addiction, nicotine reduction in cigarettes
  • tobacco products

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  • Funding National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rockville, Maryland, USA, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland, USA. Other Funders: American Legacy Foundation, Washington DC, USA.

  • Competing interests DKH has received grant funding from Nabi Biopharmaceuticals to conduct nicotine vaccine clinical trials. JEH provides consulting support for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health through Pinney Associates on an exclusive basis on issues related to tobacco dependence treatment, has financial interest in a potential new oral nicotine replacement product and serves as an expert witness in litigation against tobacco companies. NLB serves as a consultant for Pfizer and as an expert witness in litigation against tobacco companies. MZ provides consulting support to GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health through Pinney Associates on an exclusive basis on issues related to tobacco dependence treatment. KAP has served as a consultant to Cypress Bioscience.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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