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Tobacco: Relationship between Reduced Nicotine Content and Reinforcement in Rats

Principal Investigator: Adriaan W. Bruijnzeel

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health – Grant

ID number: 1R01DA042530-01

Award Date: 7/8/2016

Institution: University of Florida


Despite increasing awareness about the adverse health effects of smoking, adolescents continue to experiment with cigarettes and about two-thirds of them transition from occasional to daily smoking. The goal of this study is to determine whether positive and negative reinforcing properties of low-nicotine cigarettes are diminished compared to those of high-nicotine cigarettes in a rat model; the positive reinforcing effects of nicotine are critical for the initiation of smoking and the negative reinforcing effects of withdrawal prevent people from maintaining abstinence. Study aims are: (1) to determine if the nicotine content of tobacco affects the rewarding properties of smoke in adolescent rats; (2) to determine if exposure to tobacco smoke with various nicotine levels during early-mid adolescence affects the acquisition of nicotine intake and the motivation to self-administer nicotine during late adolescence; and (3) to determine if tobacco nicotine content affects the development of nicotine dependence during adolescence and early adulthood in rats. Study findings may inform regulatory activities related to reducing the nicotine content in tobacco as a measure to prevent the transition to daily smoking and nicotine addiction.