Cumulative vulnerabilities as a potential moderator of response to reduced nicotine content cigarettes

Stephen T. Higgins, Michael DeSarno, Janice Y. Bunn, Diann E. Gaalema, Adam M. Leventhal, Danielle R. Davis, Joanna M. Streck, Roxanne F. Harfmann, Catherine Markesich, Eva Orr, Stacey C. Sigmon, Sarah H. Heil, Jennifer W. Tidey, Dustin Lee, John R. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Risk for smoking increases in a summative manner corresponding to the number of co-occurring vulnerabilities present (cumulative vulnerability). We examined whether cumulative vulnerabilities moderate response to reduced nicotine content cigarettes in a secondary analysis of results from 775 participants in three 12-week randomized clinical trials examining research cigarettes varying in nicotine content (0.4, 2.4, 15.8 mg nicotine/g tobacco). Participants were categorized as having 0–1, 2–3, or ≥ 4 cumulative vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities included: rural residence, current substance use disorder, current affective disorder, low educational attainment, poverty, unemployment, physical disability. The primary outcome was total cigarettes per day (CPD) during Week 12; secondary outcomes included CPD across weeks, toxin exposure, dependence severity, craving/withdrawal (17 dependent measures). Results were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of covariance and growth-curve modeling. Total CPD during Week 12 increased as cumulative-vulnerability increased (P = 0.004), and decreased as nicotine content decreased (P < 0.001), with no significant interaction of cumulative vulnerability and dose (P = 0.67). Effects on other outcomes generally followed that same pattern. The only exception across the other outcomes was on Questionnaire-on-Smoking-Urges Factor-2 ratings for usual-brand cigarettes where cumulative vulnerability, dose, and time interacted (P = 0.007), with craving at the 0.4 and 2.4 mg/g doses decreasing over time, but inconsistently across vulnerability categories. Overall, we saw little evidence that cumulative vulnerabilities moderate response to reduced nicotine content cigarettes suggesting that a policy reducing nicotine content in cigarettes to minimally addictive levels could benefit even highly vulnerable smokers including those residing in rural or other regions with overrepresentation of co-occurring vulnerabilities. Clinicaltrials.gov identifiers: NCT02232737, NCT02250664, NCT02250534.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106714
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume152
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cumulative vulnerability
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Reduced nicotine content cigarettes
  • Toxin exposure
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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