New lower nicotine cigarettes can produce compensatory smoking and increased carbon monoxide exposure

Andrew A. Strasser, Caryn Lerman, Paul M. Sanborn, Wallace B. Pickworth, Eric A. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Potential reduced exposure products (PREPs) are marketed as a means to reduce exposure to tobacco toxicants. Quest® cigarettes, a new type of PREP, use genetically modified tobacco to provide a nicotine step-down approach, and are available as 0.6, 0.3 and 0.05 mg nicotine cigarettes. However, these cigarettes deliver equivalent levels of tar (10 mg). Prior research on low nicotine cigarettes suggests smokers will compensate for lower nicotine delivery by increasing their puffing behavior to extract more nicotine. This study tested the hypothesis that compensatory smoking will occur with this PREP as nicotine levels decrease, increasing exposure to tobacco toxins. Fifty smokers completed a within-subject human laboratory study investigating the effect of cigarette nicotine level on smoking behavior. Cigarette nicotine level was double-blinded and order of presentation counter-balanced. Breath carbon monoxide (CO) boost was used as a biomarker of smoke exposure; total puff volume to assess smoking behavior. Total puff volume was greatest for the 0.05 mg nicotine cigarette and CO boost was moderately greater after smoking the 0.3 and 0.05 mg cigarettes compared to the 0.6 mg nicotine cigarette. These data provide novel behavioral and biochemical evidence of compensatory smoking when smoking lower nicotine cigarettes. Although marketed as a PREP, increases in CO boost suggest this product can potentially be a harm-increasing product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-300
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jan 12 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nicotine
  • Puff volume
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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