CENIC's Project 1, Study 1b

CENIC supplement study, "Cigarette Nicotine Discrimination Threshold"

The aim of Study 1b is to identify in dependent adult smokers the lowest mean nicotine threshold "dose" in cigarettes that can be reliably discriminated from the very lowest nicotine content cigarette available (labeled here as "placebo"). Cigarettes below this threshold dose, likely well below the contents of commercial brands, would not be discriminable from “placebo” cigarettes, which do not support nicotine dependence. Thus, knowing the mean nicotine discrimination threshold dose could inform future research on what maximum nicotine levels in available cigarettes may aid a reduction in dependence and foster tobacco cessation. Study procedures are based on those we developed and used to assess nicotine discrimination threshold dose via nasal spray nearly 15 years ago and from our more recent studies of responses to controlled exposure to cigarettes differing widely in nicotine. Because the new Spectrum research cigarettes systematically differ in very low nicotine contents, including one with just 0.03 mg nicotine yield that could serve as a "placebo", we can now determine this threshold dose using cigarettes containing progressively lower nicotine contents to compare with the placebo. The study began in spring 2014, and we should complete the anticipated sample of 30 male and female dependent smokers (not interested in quitting) by the end of 2014. Results to date are too preliminary to make any conclusions about threshold dose for discriminating low nicotine vs. placebo cigarettes, but they confirm effectiveness of our procedures for testing project aims.

Principal Investigator:

  • Dr. Kenneth A. Perkins, University of Pittsburgh


Dr. Eric Donny

4119 Sennott Square
210 S. Bouquet St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami

Tobacco Research Programs
717 Delaware Street SE, Room 258-02
Minneapolis, MN 55414-2959