Potential Moderating Effects of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Symptom Severity on Subjective and Behavioral Responses to Reduced Nicotine Content Cigarettes

Diann E. Gaalema, Jennifer W. Tidey, Danielle R. Davis, Stacey C. Sigmon, Sarah H. Heil, Maxine L. Stitzer, Michael J. Desarno, Valeria Diaz, John R. Hughes, Stephen T. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Given FDA's authority to implement a cigarette nicotine reduction policy, possible outcomes of this regulation must be examined, especially among those who may be most affected, such as those with comorbid psychiatric disorders. Methods: In this secondary analysis of a multisite, randomized, clinical laboratory study, we used analyses of variance to examine the effects of nicotine dose (0.4, 2.4, 5.2, and 15.8 mg/g of tobacco), depressive and anxiety diagnoses (depression only, anxiety only, both, or neither), and depressive and anxiety symptom severity on cigarette choice, smoke exposure, craving, and withdrawal across three vulnerable populations: socioeconomically disadvantaged women of reproductive age, opioid-dependent individuals, and those with affective disorders (n = 169). Results: Diagnosis and symptom severity largely had no effects on smoking choice, total puff volume, or CO boost. Significant main effects on craving and withdrawal were observed, with higher scores in those with both anxiety and depression diagnoses compared with depression alone or no diagnosis, and in those with more severe depressive symptoms (p's <. 001). These factors did not interact with nicotine dose. Cigarettes with <15.8 mg/g nicotine were less reinforcing, decreased total puff volume, and produced significant but lower magnitude and shorter duration reductions in craving and withdrawal than higher doses (p's <. 01). Conclusions: Reducing nicotine dose reduced measures of cigarette addiction potential, with little evidence of moderation by either psychiatric diagnosis or symptom severity, providing evidence that those with comorbid psychiatric disorders would respond to a nicotine reduction policy similarly to other smokers. Implications: Thus far, controlled studies in healthy populations of smokers have demonstrated that use of very low nicotine content cigarettes reduces cigarette use and dependence without resulting in compensatory smoking. These analyses extend those findings to a vulnerable population of interest, those with comorbid psychiatric disorders. Cigarettes with very low nicotine content were less reinforcing, decreased total puff volume, and produced significant but lower magnitude and shorter duration reductions in craving and withdrawal than higher doses. These nicotine dose effects did not interact with psychiatric diagnosis or mood symptom severity suggesting that smokers in this vulnerable population would respond to a nicotine reduction strategy similarly to other smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S29-S37
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Volume21
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 23 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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