If the data contradict the theory, throw out the data: Nicotine addiction in the 2010 report of the Surgeon General

Harm Reduct J. 2011 May 19:8:12. doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-8-12.

Abstract

The reports of US Surgeon General on smoking are considered the authoritative statement on the scientific state of the art in this field. The previous report on nicotine addiction published in 1988 is one of the most cited references in scientific articles on smoking and often the only citation provided for specific statements of facts regarding nicotine addiction. In this commentary we review the chapter on nicotine addiction presented in the recent report of the Surgeon General. We show that the nicotine addiction model presented in this chapter, which closely resembles its 22 years old predecessor, could only be sustained by systematically ignoring all contradictory evidence. As a result, the present SG's chapter on nicotine addiction, which purportedly "documents how nicotine compares with heroin and cocaine in its hold on users and its effects on the brain," is remarkably biased and misleading.

Publication types

  • Editorial