, Volume 108, Issue 4, pp 408–410 | Cite as

Nicotine addiction: a re-analysis of the arguments

  • Robert West


This paper evaluates the arguments put forward by Robinson and Pritchard (R&P, this volume) that the conclusions of the US Surgeon General (USDHHS 1988) that nicotine is addictive were ill founded. R&P state that nicotine does not cause intoxication, that many smokers do not exhibit compulsive use, that nicotine is not a euphoriant, that nicotine is a weak reinforcer in other species, that non-pharmacological aspects of smoking are important and that negative affect control accounts for more of the variance in questionnaire measures of smoking motives than does habit. This paper points out that intoxication and a euphoriant effect are not normally considered to be central to dependence potential, that no addictive drug results in compulsive use in all users in all situations, that animals do reliably self-administer nicotine, that evidence concerning the apparent importance of non-pharmacological components of smoking do not diminish the importance of pharmacological aspects and that “variance accounted for” of self-report measures of smoking motivation do not bear on the issue of the importance of those motives. The paper concludes with a summary of the essence of the argument that cigarettes are addictive and that nicotine is the primary focus of that addiction.

Key words

Smoking Nicotine Dependence Addiction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Action on Smoking and Health (1991) NOP Omnibus survey 11 MarchGoogle Scholar
  2. Bradstock MK, Marks JS, Forman MR et al. (1987) Drink Driving and health life-style in the United States: behavioural risk factor surveys. J Stud Alcohol 48:147–152Google Scholar
  3. Cox BD, Blaxter M, Buckle ALJ et al. (1987) The Health and Lifestyle Survey. The Health Promotion Research Trust, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Di Franza JR, Winters TH, Goldberg RJ, Cirillo L, Biloursi T (1986) The relationship of smoking to motor vehicle accidents and traffic violations. NY State J Med 86:464–467Google Scholar
  5. Fagerstrom KO (1988) Efficacy of nicotine chewing gum: a review. In: Pomerleau OF, Pomerleau CS (eds) Nicotine replacement: a critical evaluation. Liss, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Glass A (1990) Blue mood, blackened lungs: depression and smoking. JAMA 264:1583–1584Google Scholar
  7. Goldberg SR, Stolerman IP (1986) Behavioural analysis of drug dependence. Academic Press, OrlandoGoogle Scholar
  8. Jarvis MJ (1991) A time for a conceptual stocktaking. Br J Addict 86:643–648Google Scholar
  9. Rose JE, Zinser MC, Tashkin DP, Newcomb R, Ertle A (1984) Subjective response to cigarette smoking following airway anesthetization. Addict Behav 9:211–215Google Scholar
  10. Russell MAH (1978) Smoking addiction: some implications for cessation. In: Schwartz IL (ed) Progress in smoking cessation. American Cancer Society, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Russell MAH (1991) The future of nicotine replacement. Br J Addict 86:653–658Google Scholar
  12. Russell MAH, Peto J, Patel UA (1974) The classification of smoking by factorial structure of motives. J R Statist Soc Series A: General 137:313–346Google Scholar
  13. Sachs DPL (1990) Advances in smoking cessation treatment: state of the art. Curr Pulmonol 12:1–48Google Scholar
  14. Spielberger CD (1986) Psychological determinance of smoking behavior. In: Tollison RD (ed) Smoking and society: toward a more balanced assessment. D.C. Health, Lexington MA, pp 89–134Google Scholar
  15. US Department of Health and Human Services (1988) The health consequences of smoking: nicotine addiction. A report of the Surgeon General. Office on Smoking and Health, MarylandGoogle Scholar
  16. Vocci FJ (1991) The necessity and utility of abuse liability evaluations in human subjects. Br J Addict 86:1537–1542Google Scholar
  17. West R, Russell M (1987) Cardiovascular and subjective effects of smoking before and after 24 hours of abstinence from cigarettes. Psychopharmacology 92:118–121Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert West
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology Department, St. George's Hospital Medical SchoolLondon UniversityLondonUK

Personalised recommendations