Next to losing weight, the most popular American New Year’s resolution is to stop smoking. Most people who smoke know how bad it is for them, realize the health risks they are exposing themselves to, and feel the negative effects of smoking. Aside from the high cost of smoking, it can also increase the risk of diabetes, cause cancer, elevate blood pressure, and take years off their lives. Most smokers admit that they’d like to quit smoking and feel better, yet it is one of the hardest things to give up. New research, however, shows that it may not be their fault. The price of cigarettes isn’t the only thing that’s gone up in recent years. Many brands of cigarettes also have a higher nicotine yield, which makes it harder to quit smoking.
A new media release details a study done by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and University of Massachusetts Medical School. The researchers found a significant increase in the amount of nicotine yielded per cigarette between 1998 and 2012. There was a 15% increase, from 1.65 mg in 1999 to 1.89 mg in 2011. Though the amount of nicotine in each cigarette has remained unchanged, the actual nicotine yield has changed. This means that the amount of nicotine in the smoke, which is also inhaled, has gone up, making each cigarette more potent and habit forming than before.
This study suggests that those who start smoking at an early age today are getting addicted to the nicotine at a faster rate than in previous years and are likely to have a harder time giving it up. Smokers appear to have again been misled. Those interested in cutting back and smoking fewer cigarettes throughout the day to try to wean themselves of their addiction wil likely find that the higher nicotine yield makes it harder to quit smoking. Smokers get the same amount of nicotine as before even when smoking fewer cigarettes. Cigarettes appear to have become even more habit forming.
Cigarette manufacturers deny the claims that they’ve increased the nicotine yield in cigarettes in recent years to boost sales. They blame the difference on changes in agriculture. The potential problem with this theory is that nicotine changes were not consistent among all brands of cigarettes. Newport, Camel, and Doral demonstrated the higher levels of nicotine yield, while Marlboro didn’t show any increase. If agricultural changes were to blame, it seems that it would be evident in all forms of tobacco.
Another study was published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research that is consistent with these findings and researchers in that study suggests that Food and Drug Administration regulations are necessary to ensure that the same standards are used across the board. The bottom line is that consumers are responsible for making their own decisions and if they are to be able to make informed decisions, it is important for them to know that the products are changing.
Higher nicotine yield makes it harder to quit smoking, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. While going cold turkey, using cessation aids, or using e-cigarettes may be an option for some people, perhaps smoking half a cigarette at a time could cut back on the amount of nicotine inhaled in order to wean themselves off of it and kick the habit.
By Tracy Rose