At least one person has published alleged doubts about whether cigarettes are addictive, with their doubt/claim being supposedly backed by at least one scientific study.

Is this a reasonable question (for example is there a good definition of the word "addiction"), and if so what is the answer?

  • See also Does addictive behavior exist?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 2:56
  • 1
    I agree that the definition of "addiction" is a potential source for hazard. The study you link to doesn't seem to argue that cigarettes aren't addictive, per se, it instead focuses on the mechanism, concluding that it is based on habit/social cues rather than physiological deprivation. I don't know what an "approved" source for a definition would be, but wiki has some candidate material. In particular, "Addiction can... be viewed as a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it."
    – Hendy
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:04
  • The article itself seems to play with words in that it seems to define "addiction" as only resulting from physiological effects, such as when it contrasts nicotine with heroine, "which creates true systemic and biologically-based withdrawal symptoms in the body of the user." Perhaps the claim to be evaluated is whether nicotine creates any objectively measurable withdrawal symptoms (preferably measured by instruments, not questionnaires and observation). His study only examined plane flights and Sabbath behavior of smokers -- not an exhaustive examination by any means.
    – Hendy
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:07
  • Cigarettes are very observable as addictive, but the question should be is tobacco addictive? Cigarettes contain a lot more than just tobacco. Home grown tobacco smokers report less addictive properties and less general drug effect too. They also report not as much 'taste' as commercial cigarettes though?
    – TFD
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 8:11

2 Answers 2


A huge number of studies indicate that nicotine, which is present in all cigaretes, is highly addictive. Here are some references:

This book questions the addictive properties of nicotine, but even it admits: "Nicotine is almost universally believed to be the major factor that motivates smoking and impedes cessation.". While I don't have access to the book, it seems likely that the author believes that some other ingredient of cigarettes causes addiction rather than cigarettes not being addictive.

So the huge majority of informed opinion says Yes, cigarettes are addictive. It may be that a few people dissent from that view.

  • 1
    Cigarettes are as addictive because they also contain harmine which is an MAO inhibitor. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmine Nicotine gum and patches alone won't hook you as strong as cigarettes do.. Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 17:26

National health authorities publish assertions (citing scientific/other studies) that cigarettes are addictive:

  • posted a similar link to the relevant US agency a few days ago in another thread which was promptly downvoted because apparently someone thought it non-authorative to reference the US government's anti-addiction agency...
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 8:08
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    this answer seems too simple and is in direct contrast to some of the statements made in the original article. Health Canada says that nicotine actually does have physical withdrawal symptoms and that addiction to it is caused by chemical/biological changes in the brain. I think a sufficient answer to this question should put forward the methods used to determine that this either is or isn't the case -- studies simply observing behavior don't cut it for me. There are lots of sources from Health Canada -- can you "beef up" this answer with specific study methodologies?
    – Hendy
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 12:54

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