Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #218
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Should the FDA Reduce the Nicotine Content of Cigarettes? The Science and Potential Public Health Impact

Monday, May 30, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Lucerne, Swissotel
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Christine E. Hughes, Ph.D.
Chair: Christine E. Hughes (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
ERIC C. DONNY (Univerisity of Pittsburgh)
Dr. Donny is a Professor of Psychology (primary), Psychiatry and Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. His expertise includes behavioral pharmacology, biological and health psychology, addiction, and regulatory science. His research has included a wide range of topics and techniques including animal models of self-administration, human abuse liability of cocaine and heroin, functional neuroimaging, population-based surveys, and clinical trials of tobacco products. His current interests focus on regulatory approaches to reducing the health burden of tobacco. He co-directs the Center for the Evaluation of Nicotine in Cigarettes (CENIC), an NIDA/FDA-funded cooperative agreement involving 12 institutions that aims to increase understanding of how behavior and health might be affected in the vast majority of smokers who are either unable or unwilling to quit, if the nicotine content of combustible tobacco products is reduced.

In 2009, Congress gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to limit the nicotine content of combusted tobacco products. Decades of research suggest that nicotine is the primary cause of tobacco addiction and that reducing nicotine might reduce the rate and/or prevalence of smoking and have a dramatic impact on public health. This presentation will focus on recent clinical and preclinical data that addresses the potential benefits and risks of reducing nicotine as a regulatory approach. Clinical studies indicate that marked reduction in the nicotine content of cigarettes lead to fewer cigarettes smoked per day and reduced nicotine dependence with little evidence of compensatory smoking. Preclinical data from rat models of nicotine self-administration indicate that nicotine reduction would likely also decrease the initiation of use amongst nicotine na?ve adolescent users and that other non-nicotine constituents of tobacco smoke have little effect on behavior. The primary exception is MAO inhibition, which appears to shift the dose-response curve for self-administration to the left when the cost is low (i.e., low fixed ratio). Together, these data add to a growing literature that suggests that regulated reductions in nicotine may have a positive impact on behavior and health. Funding: Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) (U54 DA031659). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the Food and Drug Administration.

Target Audience:

Licensed Psychologists, certified behavior analysts, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) determine the evidence as to whether reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes is likely to lead to compensatory smoking; (2) determine the evidence as to whether reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes is likely to lead to significant nicotine withdrawal or other negative effects such as depression; (3) determine if altering the nicotine content of cigarettes impacts price elasticity.



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