Nicotine dependence. Interface between tobacco and tobacco-related disease

J. E. Henningfield, R. Nemeth-Coslett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


It should be clear that tobacco and its patterns of use share many characteristics with other prototypic dependence-producing drugs. Initial use - usually on a trial basis - soon escalates as a process of dose graduation to a full level of dependence (physical as well as behavioral). The enhancement of performance, mood, and feeling are critical factors in the drug's ability to control behavior, and the availability, cost, and acceptability of the product promote (rather than deter) dependence. When cigarette smoking was regarded as a voluntary pleasure or a simple habit, there was little reason to treat it as anything else and, in fact, there were limited resources available to the smoker who wanted to quit other than his own determination and motivation. Now that tobacco use has been more universally accepted as a form of drug dependence in which nicotine is the critical abuse-producing agent, there is a rational basis for the treatment of cigarette smoking based on experience with other forms of drug dependence. While such a conclusion will discourage some, for most it should come as a relief to discover that their difficulties in quitting and the pleasures they associate with tobacco are not merely psychological, they are physically based. Moreover, they can be treated. In fact, the acknowledgement and acceptance of nicotine dependence is actually reason for encouragement in treating cigarette smoking, for it provides a rational basis for combining pharmacologic intervention with behavioral techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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    Henningfield, J. E., & Nemeth-Coslett, R. (1988). Nicotine dependence. Interface between tobacco and tobacco-related disease. Chest, 93(2 SUPPL.).