Many smokers have told me that smoking gives them immense pleasure - that they let go of all their worries when they smoke a cigarette. Their descriptions of the sensations produced are quite similar to those produced by drugs, alcohol etc and that they are addicted to the pleasure that smoking gives them.

This led me to believe that cigarettes have a physiological effect on the brain. But I found this article on the Internet that states that any effect produced by cigarettes is purely psychological.

Can anyone clarify?

  • 3
    -1 from The Psychology of Everyday Living by Ernest Dichter 1947 - Are you seriously trying to cite a 1947 study against tons of more recent studies?
    – Chad
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:18
  • 1
    @Chad hold your fire :-) He's just pointing out a not so good article and asking neutrally. It's pretty much what this site is for.
    – Sklivvz
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:23
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    How Does Tobacco Affect The Brain?
    – Oliver_C
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:24
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    @GreenNoob so after reading the next 9 that had scientific explanations of nicotine addiction you decided that the one with no scientific basis cited, that was written over 65 years ago, was good enough for a question?
    – Chad
    Mar 26, 2012 at 14:11
  • 2
    @GreenNoob - I think that is the crux of my problem with your question. Just the smallest amount of effort into research provides you with an answer.
    – Chad
    Mar 26, 2012 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


No idea where that article came from but it's from 1947, where the effects of smoking were less studied.

In any case, smoking addiction is due to both a psychological and a physiological factor. The physiological part is nicotine addiction:

Why is smoking addictive?

Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.
Even if you want to quit smoking, you may find it difficult because you’re addicted to the effects of nicotine. Some research has suggested that nicotine can be more addictive than heroin.

Chemicals in your brain

Nicotine alters the balance of chemicals in your brain. It mainly affects chemicals called dopamine and noradrenaline. When nicotine changes the levels of these chemicals, your mood and concentration levels change. Many smokers find this enjoyable.

The changes happen very quickly. When you inhale the nicotine, it immediately rushes to your brain where it takes effect. This is why many smokers enjoy the nicotine rush and become dependent on it.

The more you smoke, the more your brain becomes used to the nicotine. This means that you have to smoke more to get the same effect.

Effects of quitting smoking

When you stop smoking, the loss of nicotine changes the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline. This can make you feel anxious, depressed and irritable. It’s normal to crave nicotine when you quit, as smoking provides an immediate fix to these problems.

See also

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