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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Jun;14(6):1370-5.

Smoking topography, brand switching, and nicotine delivery: results from an in vivo study.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1.



Exposure to toxins in tobacco smoke is influenced by how a cigarette is smoked. Cigarettes have been designed to allow for a range of puffing behavior and to provide different, nonlinear tar and nicotine yields in response to different puffing profiles. However, puffing behavior and its influence upon risk-exposure has yet to be assessed outside the laboratory, in smokers' natural environment.


Fifty-nine adult smokers used a portable device to measure smoking topography over the course of three 1-week trials. Participants were asked to smoke their usual "regular yield" brand through the device for trial 1 and again, 6 weeks later, at trial 2. Half the subjects were then randomly assigned to switch to a "low-yield" brand for trial 3.


The findings show a high degree of stability in puffing behavior within the same subject over time but considerable variability between smokers. Smokers who were switched to a "low-yield" cigarette increased their total smoke intake per cigarette by 40% (P = 0.007), with no significant change in their salivary cotinine levels. Cigarettes smoked per day and nicotine yield were only weakly associated with salivary cotinine levels; however, salivary cotinine was strongly associated with a composite measure that included cigarettes per day, brand elasticity, and puffing behavior (sr = 0.61, P < 0.001).


These findings provide strong evidence of behavioral compensation to low-yield cigarettes from in vivo measures of smoking behavior. The findings also show the importance of brand elasticity and smoking topography in predicting nicotine uptake and smoke exposure.

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