New low-nicotine cigarettes are coming exclusively to Chicago stores and claim to reduce cravings

A new type of cigarette designed to help smokers smoke less debuts exclusively in Chicago this week.

Circle K stores in the city and suburbs are selling the new low-nicotine cigarettes under a pilot program by Buffalo, New York-based 22nd Century Group, which is developing VLN cigarettes.

The company said in a statement that its cigarettes contain 95% less nicotine than conventional cigarettes using genetically modified tobacco plants.

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Cigarettes are the first smokable products authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to help adult smokers smoke less.

VLN King and VLN Menthol King Cigarette at Circle K in Wheaton, IL on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Matt Martin)

After more than 50 clinical trials, research found that those who smoked VLN cigarettes saw a 50% reduction in cigarettes per day after 20 weeks, reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and more smoke-free days and attempts. shutdown, the company said in a statement. .

Chicago Medical Society President Dr. Tariq Butt said in the 22nd Century Group statement that he intends to closely review the independent research cited by the FDA.

VLN King and VLN Menthol King Cigarette at Circle K in Wheaton, IL on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Matt Martin)

“As a primary care physician, I have lost patients because they were unable to quit,” Butt said in the statement. “We can’t ignore new products that could help people smoke less. If the FDA says this reduced nicotine cigarette will help people smoke less, then as doctors, that’s something we have to consider for patients.”

A pack of VLN cigarettes, which are both regular and menthol, cost about the same as premium all-nicotine brands, the company said.

Photos of VLN King and VLN Menthol King cigarettes from 22nd Century Group Inc. at Circle K in Wheaton, IL on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Matt Martin)

The cigarettes are available exclusively at more than 150 Circle K convenience stores in Chicago, suburban Cook County and Collar Counties.

The company said it chose Chicago as a test market because smokers are found in all segments of the population. According to CDC estimates, 15.5% of Illinois adults smoke cigarettes, which is higher than the national average of 12.5%.

22nd Century Group said it plans to expand sales nationwide following the three- to six-month pilot program in Chicago.

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