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An Evaluation of Potential Unintended Consequences of a Nicotine Product Standard: A Focus on Drinking History and Outcomes

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posted on 2022-11-24, 20:25 authored by Sarah DermodySarah Dermody, Katelyn M. Tessier, Ellen Meier, Mustafa Al’Absi, Rachel L. Denlinger-Apte, David J. Drobes, Joni Jensen, Joseph S. Koopmeiners, Lauren R. Pacek, Jennifer W. Tidey, Ryan Vandrey, Eric C. Donny, Dorothy Hatsukami

Background. A nicotine product standard reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes could improve public health by reducing smoking. This study evaluated the potential unintended consequences of a reduced-nicotine product standard by examining its effects on (1) smoking behaviors based on drinking history; (2) drinking behavior; and (3) daily associations between smoking and drinking. Methods. Adults who smoke daily (n=752) in the United States were randomly assigned to smoke very low nicotine content (VLNC) versus normal nicotine content (NNC; control) cigarettes for 20 weeks. Linear mixed models determined if baseline drinking moderated the effects of VLNC versus NNC cigarettes on Week 20 smoking outcomes. Time-varying effect models estimated the daily association between smoking VLNC cigarettes and drinking outcomes. Results. Higher baseline alcohol use (versus no-use or lower use) was associated with a smaller effect of VLNC on Week 20 urinary total nicotine equivalents (ps<.05). No additional moderation was supported (ps>.05). In the subsample who drank (n=415), in the VLNC versus NNC condition, daily alcohol use was significantly reduced from Week 17-20 and odds of binge drinking were significantly reduced from Week 9-17. By Week 7 in the VLNC cigarette condition (n=272), smoking no longer predicted alcohol use but remained associated with binge drinking. Conclusions. We did not support negative unintended consequences of a nicotine product standard. Nicotine reduction in cigarettes generally impacted smoking behavior for individuals who do not drink or drink light-to-moderate amounts in similar ways. Extended VLNC cigarette use may improve public health by reducing drinking behavior.

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