From the Director
Tobacco use kills nearly half a million Americans each year, with one in every six U.S. deaths the result of smoking. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and compromising smokers health in general. Nicotine, a component of tobacco, is the primary reason that tobacco is addictive, although cigarette smoke contains many other dangerous chemicals, including tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, nitrosamines, and more.
An improved overall understanding of addiction and of nicotine as an addictive drug has been instrumental in developing medications and behavioral treatments for tobacco addiction. For example, the nicotine patch and gum, now readily available at drugstores and supermarkets nationwide, have proven effective for smoking cessation when combined with behavioral therapy.
Advanced neuroimaging technologies further assist this mission by allowing researchers to observe changes in brain function that result from smoking tobacco. Researchers have also identified new roles for genes that predispose people to tobacco addiction and predict their response to smoking cessation treatments. These findingsand many other recent research accomplishmentsare affording us unique opportunities to discover, develop, and disseminate new treatments for tobacco addiction, as well as scientifically based prevention programs to help curtail the public health burden that tobacco use represents.
We hope this Research Report, summarizing the latest scientific information about tobacco addiction, will help readers understand its harmful effects as well as identify best practices for its prevention and treatment.
Nora D.Volkow, M.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
This report is also available in PDF format, Tobacco Addiction, [PDF format, 240 KB]
All materials appearing in the Research Reports Series are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated.
To obtain printed copies of this report, please call or write the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information, P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20852, 1-800-729-6686. NIDA Research Report - Tobacco Addiction: NIH Publication No. 06-4342, Printed 1998, Reprinted 2001, Revised 2006.