Measuring nicotine dependence: a review of the Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire

J Behav Med. 1989 Apr;12(2):159-82. doi: 10.1007/BF00846549.


In the last decade, the importance of nicotine in maintaining smoking and in cessation difficulty has been acknowledged. Consequently, this has led to efforts to measure nicotine dependence. This paper focuses on a widely used, paper-and-pencil test of nicotine dependence--the Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire (FTQ). The findings indicate that the FTQ correlates with other proposed measures of nicotine dependence (carbon monoxide, nicotine, and cotinine levels). The connection between FTQ scores and withdrawal symptoms is weak. In clinic outcome trials, the FTQ predicted success where no pharmacologic treatment was involved, while nicotine replacement appeared to mask the relation between FTQ scores and outcome. However, the FTQ may predict outcome with nicotine replacement as a function of dose. In placebo-controlled, nicotine replacement trials, FTQ scores were related to success by treatment. Problems with the FTQ are described with focus on item difficulties and analyses of the scale.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Tolerance
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Psychological Tests*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*


  • Nicotine