With the signing of H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gained regulatory authority over the tobacco industry. A notable clause in this Act permits the FDA to regulate nicotine yields. However, they cannot completely remove this addictive constituent from tobacco products. This restriction has prompted the FDA to seek research on the threshold dose of nicotine that does not support dependence. This idea of threshold dose has led to an interesting reframing of scientific questions. For example, some researchers studying nicotine from this regulatory perspective translated the notion of an addiction threshold to a construct thought to play a role in addiction but which can be more readily operationalized. Examples include reinforcement threshold, discrimination threshold, and reinforcer-enhancement threshold. In this Perspective Paper, we highlight the importance of behavioral pharmacology and, specifically, the experimental analysis of behavior to help establish a scientific basis for policy decisions regarding nicotine yields. Recent research, including exemplars provided herein, note vast individual differences in the effects of nicotine at a known dose. Unfortunately, the behavioral and biological factors that contribute to such individual variations remain to be understood. We believe that behavior analysts are uniquely well-positioned to contribute to this understanding.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience