The role of nicotine in tobacco use

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1992;108(4):397-407. doi: 10.1007/BF02247412.


The 1988 US Surgeon General's Report titled "Nicotine Addiction", is cited frequently in the literature as having established the "fact" that nicotine derived from cigarette smoke is addictive in the same sense as "classic" addicting drugs such as heroin and cocaine. This manuscripts critically evaluates key research findings used in support of this claim and identifies shortcomings in the data that seriously question the logic of labeling nicotine as "addictive". In addition, the manuscript argues that the role of nicotine in tobacco use is not like the role of cocaine in coca leaf use as argued by the 1988 Surgeon General's Report, but is, in fact, more like the role of caffeine in coffee drinking as concluded in the 1964 US Surgeon General's Report.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology*


  • Nicotine