Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Stephen T. Higgins


Introduction: An active area of tobacco regulatory science research focuses on examining the effects of varying the nicotine content of cigarettes as part of a potential national policy to lower their nicotine content levels to reduce addiction potential. The present study examines differences in the behavioral effects of reduced nicotine content cigarettes related to their menthol status. Menthol is the only cigarette flavoring that is still legally permissible according to Food and Drug administration regulations.

Methods: Participants were 26 current adult smokers from three populations especially vulnerable to tobacco use and addiction (economically disadvantaged women, opioid-dependent individuals, individuals with affective disorders) dichotomized as menthol (n=11) or non-menthol (n=15) smokers. Participants completed 14 experimental sessions following acute smoking abstinence (CO<50% baseline level). Across sessions, participants smoked four Spectrum research cigarettes (22nd Century Group, Clarence, NY) with varying nicotine content levels (0.4mg/g, 2.4 mg/g, 5.2 mg/g, 15.8 mg/g) or their usual brand cigarette. Research cigarettes were mentholated or non-mentholated corresponding to participants usual brand. Upon completion of smoking, participants completed tasks measuring reinforcing efficacy, subjective effects, topography, and withdrawal and craving measures. Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance was used for all analyses (p<.05).

Results: Main effects of menthol status, as well as interactions of nicotine dose and menthol were noted across subscales of subjective effects and direct assessments of reinforcing efficacy. Usual brand mentholated cigarettes produced a profile of equal or greater relative reinforcing effects than usual brand non-mentholated cigarettes, while mentholated research cigarettes produced a profile of effects that fell below (i.e., lower relative reinforcing effects compared to usual brand or non-mentholated cigarettes) those of non-mentholated research cigarettes.

Conclusions: Mentholated research cigarettes produce a lower profile of reinforcing and subjective effects, without discernible differences in smoking topography. The potential impact of mentholation on reinforcing efficacy and subjective effects should be considered when using Spectrum research cigarettes.



Number of Pages

53 p.