Study shows low nicotine cigarettes could help achieve 2025 goal

A new study by the University of Auckland shows that nicotine reduction, such as very low nicotine cigarettes, has benefits and few potential harms. It could also help achieve New Zealand's goal to be smokefree by 2025.

Director of the University's National Institute for Health Innovation, Professor Chris Bullen says, “Cigarette smoking continues to devastate the health and lives of smokers resulting in an urgent need to reduce smoking rates in New Zealand and many other regions of the world.

One way to reduce smoking is to make it less addictive by greatly reducing how much nicotine is in the tobacco people smoke.”

Researchers from the University of Auckland and Universities of Pittsburgh and Minnesota in the USA, showed that reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes has the potential to produce huge benefits with minimal harm.

The research is set to be presented in Wellington today at the Smokefree 2025 Research Symposium.

Professor Bullen says, “The goal is to enable current smokers to stop smoking and prevent youth from being dependent on cigarettes,” says Professor Bullen. “The approach aims to break the link between nicotine addiction and the use burned tobacco which results in such harmful effects on health.”

He adds that "the use of cigarettes with very low nicotine content by current smokers has many potential benefits, from decreasing overall nicotine intake, decreasing cigarette dependence and the number of cigarettes smoked per day and increasing the likelihood of making and succeeding with a quit attempt."

The researchers argue that the magnitude of the potential benefits and the growing evidence of relatively few potential harms should make nicotine reduction a centrepiece for discussion in New Zealand.