Psychopharmacology

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

Nicotine addiction: a re-analysis of the arguments

  • Robert West
Commentary

Abstract

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 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

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

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