Research shows nicotine-free cigs can help quitters

According to a 2007 Boynton Health Service study, 25 percent of students reported tobacco use in the past 30 days.

by Raghav Mehta

A recent study conducted by the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center concluded that nicotine-free cigarettes are effective in hindering prolonged cigarette use among smokers. The study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, included 165 middle-aged men and women who had smoked for an average of 15 years. Researchers compared results among three groups that used nicotine-free cigarettes, low-nicotine cigarettes and nicotine lozenges. According to a 2007 Boynton Health Service study, 25 percent of students reported tobacco use in the past 30 days. The study also stated that of those students, 38.9 percent reported making at least one attempt to quit over the past 12 months. Participants in the study, which was published in the February edition of the journal Addiction, used the products for six weeks and were then administered lung and urine tests. Of the 53 subjects given nicotine-free cigarettes, 19 remained smoke free, while only 7 of the 52 low-nicotine users were able to quit smoking following the trial period. According to Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami, the studyâÄôs principal investigator, researchers discovered that nicotine-free cigarettes were as effective as nicotine lozenges at getting smokers to quit. âÄúWhat we found was the rates of cessation were pretty equivalent,âÄù Hatsukami said. Hatsukami noted that nicotine-free cigarettes are currently not available for sale in stores in the United States but can be found online. While most cigarettes contain little more than a milligram of nicotine, nicotine-free cigarettes contain .05 milligrams and low-nicotine cigarettes contain .3 milligrams. Hatsukami said the simple act of smoking seemed to be enough to suppress withdrawal symptoms among the subjects. After a while, just inhaling smoke became rewarding, Hatsukami said, and low-nicotine cigarette users âÄúhad a tougher time.âÄù Bill Ryan, a sophomore physics major, said he has attempted to quit smoking several times. âÄúIâÄôve tried to use nicotine patches âĦ but they didnâÄôt really have an effect on me,âÄù Ryan said. After receiving federal stimulus funds, researchers will be conducting a similar experiment with the addition of a nicotine patch. The experiment will include a group using both nicotine-free cigarettes with a patch versus two other groups using the products separately. âÄúWe hypothesized that the patch and the nicotine-free cigarettes combined would be better for quitting smoking,âÄù Hatsukami said.