, Volume 115, Issue 1–2, pp 9–14 | Cite as

Transdermal nicotine: reduction of smoking with minimal abuse liability

  • Wallace B. Pickworth
  • Edward B. Bunker
  • Jack E. Henningfield
Original Investigations


Cigarette consumption as well as the physiologic, performance and subjective effects of the nicotine patch were evaluated in ten subjects who smoked ad libitum while residing on a residential research ward for 30 days. Nicotine transdermal systems (“patches”) delivering a total of 0, 22 or 44 mg per 24 h were applied daily at a constant dose during each 7-day condition; the order of dosing conditions was varied according to a randomized, double-blind, crossover design. Nicotine patches significantly but modestly reduced spontaneous smoking and significantly increased venous plasma nicotine levels. Self ratings of patch liking, satisfaction with cigarettes and the ability to identify the patch condition did not change as a function of the nicotine dose, indicating minimal abuse liability. There were no consistent changes in the puffing pattern measures; however, in all patch conditions, subjects with extensive histories of illicit drug use smoked cigarettes faster than subjects with histories of occasional drug use. Small changes in resting heart rate, pulse and blood pressure occurred when the nicotine patch was worn. Thus large changes in venous plasma nicotine levels engender only modest changes in ad libitum cigarette consumption, measures of abuse liability and cardiovascular effects. These findings are consistent with the notion that the addictive and toxic effects of nicotine are partially determined by the rate of drug administration.

Key words

Transdermal nicotine Smoking 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wallace B. Pickworth
    • 1
  • Edward B. Bunker
    • 1
  • Jack E. Henningfield
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute on Drug Abuse, Addiction Research CenterBaltimoreUSA

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