A synonymous variant in the first exon of CYP2A6, rs1137115 (51G>A), defines the common reference allele CYP2A6*1A, and is associated with lower mRNA expression and slower in-vivo nicotine metabolism. Another common allele, CYP2A6*14, differs from CYP2A6*1A by a single variant, rs28399435 (86G>A, S29N). However, CYP2A6*14 shows in-vivo activity comparable with that of full-function alleles, and significantly higher than CYP2A6*1A. rs1137115A is predicted to create an exonic splicing suppressor site overlapping an exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) site in the first exon of CYP2A6, whereas rs28399435A is predicted to strengthen another adjacent ESE, potentially compensating for rs1137115A. Using an allelic expression assay to assess cDNAs produced from rs1137115 heterozygous liver biopsy samples, lower expression of the CYP2A6*1A allele is confirmed while CYP2A6*14 expression is found to be indistinguishable from that of rs1137115G alleles. Quantitative PCR assays to determine the relative abundance of spliced and unspliced or partially spliced CYP2A6 mRNAs in liver biopsy samples show that *1A/*1A homozygotes have a significantly lower ratio, due to both a reduction in spliced forms and an increase in unspliced or partially spliced CYP2A6. These results show the importance of common genetic variants that effect exonic splicing suppressor and ESEs to explain human variation regarding clinically-relevant phenotypes.