Modeling nicotine regulation: A review of studies in smokers with mental health conditions

Jennifer W. Tidey, Danielle R. Davis, Mollie E. Miller, Irene Pericot-Valverde, Rachel L. Denlinger-Apte, Diann E. Gaalema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Smokers with mental health conditions (MHCs) lose approximately 15 years of life relative to non-smokers without MHCs, of which two-thirds are attributable to smoking. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a new regulatory strategy for tobacco that includes a reduction in the nicotine content of cigarettes sold in the US to a minimally-addictive level. This action could improve cessation rates in smokers with MHCs by reducing their dependence on nicotine. However, nicotine reduction also could have unintended negative consequences in smokers with MHCs. Thus, it is important to conduct randomized controlled trials to investigate the potential effects of nicotine reduction in smokers with MHCs. Several studies of the acute or extended effects of nicotine reduction in smokers with emotional disorders or serious mental illness have been recently completed or are underway. Studies to date indicate that when smokers with MHCs are switched, under randomized, double-blind conditions, to cigarettes with very low nicotine content, they reduce their cigarette intake, with minimal or no effects on withdrawal, psychiatric symptoms, or compensatory smoking. However, some deleterious effects of nicotine reduction on cognitive performance measures in smokers with schizophrenia have been observed, which are offset by providing concurrent nicotine replacement. We review these studies and provide suggestions for potentially increasing the effectiveness of a nicotine reduction strategy for reducing smoking in people with MHCs. The research described was conducted in the United States in 2010–2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Cigarettes
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression
  • Endgame
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tobacco control
  • Tobacco dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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