Facilitating smoking cessation using reduced nicotine cigarettes: Intervention development and RCT study design

Melissa R. Conn, Thomas H. Brandon, Yenis L. Lorenzo, Leslie E. Sawyer, Vani N. Simmons, Steven K. Sutton, Eric C. Donny, Dorothy Hatsukami, David J. Drobes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Smoking cigarettes with substantially lower nicotine than conventional cigarettes prior to a quit attempt may reduce the reinforcing effects of smoking, which could facilitate smoking cessation through extinction learning. This paper describes the development of a smoking cessation intervention designed to optimize extinction processes using reduced nicotine cigarettes, as well as the design and methods for an ongoing randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate this intervention. Qualitative methods and pilot testing were conducted to develop the novel facilitated extinction (FE) intervention, with a key focus on maximizing opportunities for extinction learning during a five-week pre-quit period. The primary aims of the RCT are to test the effects of the FE intervention versus a standard (cognitive-behavioral) intervention, while also comparing two nicotine reduction schedules for providing very low nicotine content (VLNC) cigarettes. The efficacy of the intervention is currently being evaluated with treatment-seeking smokers (n = 208) randomly assigned to one of four conditions crossing FE versus standard intervention with immediate versus gradual transition to VLNC cigarettes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106172
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This was work was supported by the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program of the Florida Department of Health [grant number 6JK02].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Extinction
  • Reduced nicotine cigarettes
  • Smoking cessation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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