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The Effect of a Very Low Nicotine Content Expectancy on Cigarette Health Risk Perceptions, Subjective Effects, and Smoking Behavior

Joel, Danielle (2014) The Effect of a Very Low Nicotine Content Expectancy on Cigarette Health Risk Perceptions, Subjective Effects, and Smoking Behavior. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Introduction: The U.S. FDA can regulate tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, creating the potential for new cigarette standards aiming to reduce harm. Nicotine content could be a target of regulation, since nicotine drives cigarette addiction (Stolerman & Jarvis, 2005), though the FDA cannot mandate zero nicotine (Congress, 2009). The FDA may consider enacting a reduced nicotine product standard for all cigarettes, as the use of very low nicotine content (VLNC) cigarettes (i.e. 0.05 mg nicotine yield) has been shown to decrease smoking rate and dependence over time (Hatsukami, et al., 2010). However, most studies of VLNC cigarettes to date have blinded subjects to the nicotine content, so little is known about how smokers perceive cigarettes with known very low nicotine levels and how this knowledge impacts cigarette use. Methods: The present study was a within-subjects experiment with 68 adult daily smokers who tried two identical Quest 3 (0.05 mg nicotine yield) cigarettes in a single session (counterbalanced order). Before smoking they were told that one cigarette contained “average” nicotine, and the other contained “very low” nicotine. Smokers rated each cigarette on several measures after sampling them. Results: Smokers rated the “very low” nicotine cigarette as less risky overall than the “average” nicotine cigarette (p=0.001); this effect held true for specific diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, stroke, chronic bronchitis, and other cancers (p’s <0.001). Additionally, smokers rated the “very low” nicotine cigarette as having less desirable subjective effects than the “average” nicotine cigarette, including reduced satisfaction, psychological reward, and enjoyment of respiratory sensations (p’s<0.05). Moreover, smokers predicted having greater interest in quitting smoking in 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year (p’s <0.02) when considering exclusive availability of the “very low” nicotine cigarette. Similarly, more smokers predicted being abstinent in 5 years when considering exclusive availability of the “very low” nicotine cigarette (p=0.04). Conclusions: Explicit knowledge of very low nicotine content changes smokers’ perceptions of VLNC cigarettes, resulting in reduced predicted harm, subjective effects and predicted use.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDonny, Ericedonny@pitt.eduEDONNY
Committee MemberSayette, Michaelsayette@pitt.eduSAYETTE
Committee MemberPerkins, Kennethperkinska@upmc.eduKPERKINS
Date: 27 January 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 October 2013
Approval Date: 27 January 2014
Submission Date: 30 October 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 52
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: smoking, nicotine
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2014 17:16
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:41


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