The neuropeptide galanin and its receptors are expressed in brain regions implicated in drug dependence. Indeed, several lines of evidence support a role for galanin in modulating the effects of drugs of abuse, including morphine, cocaine, amphetamine, and alcohol. Despite these findings, the role of galanin and its receptors in the effects of nicotine is largely underexplored. Here, using mouse models of nicotine reward and withdrawal, we show that there is a significant correlation between mecamylamine-precipitated nicotine withdrawal somatic signs and basal galanin or galanin receptor 1 (GALR1) expression in mesolimbocortical dopamine regions across the BXD battery of recombinant inbred mouse lines. The non-peptide galanin receptor agonist, galnon, also blocks nicotine rewarding effects and reverses mecamylamine-precipitated nicotine withdrawal signs in ICR mice. Additionally, we conducted a meta-analysis using smoking information from six European-American and African-American data sets. In support of our animal data, results from the association study show that variants in the GALR1 gene are associated with a protective effect in nicotine dependence (ND). Taken together, our data suggest that galanin has a protective role against progression to ND, and these effects may be mediated through GALR1.