Policy on Nicotine & Tobacco
The College on Problems of Drug Dependence is a national organization which supports and facilitates research related to understanding drug addiction, the factors underlying drug dependence and the treatment of drug dependent individuals. Research to date supports the following observations and conclusions with regard to nicotine and tobacco:
- Regular use of tobacco products (cigarettes and smokeless) is the largest single known preventable cause of human morbidity and mortality in the USA, particularly morbidity and mortality due to heart disease, lung cancer and emphysema, accounting for 1 in 5 of all deaths in the U.S.
- Data from both animals and humans indicate that nicotine produces tolerance, physical dependence, reinforcing psychoactive effects and is thus an abusable and dependence producing substance. Regular tobacco users obtain sufficient quantities of nicotine to produce these effects. They generally exhibit the characteristics of clinical dependence including compulsive use, difficulty quitting and withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of chronic use.
- The psychoactive effects of nicotine depend on dose, route and speed of administration. Tobacco products appear to maximize the reinforcing effects of nicotine in part by enabling the user to control dose and speed of delivery.
- Inhalation from cigarettes in particular provides high doses delivered at a rapid rate that readily sustains dependence.
- Most smokers would like to quit and approximately one third of all smokers make a quit attempt in a given year. However, on any given attempt, less than 10% of those who try to quit on their own succeed.
- Behavioral treatment and nicotine replacement medications can greatly improve the prognosis for successful smoking cessation attempts; nicotine replacement medications are most successful when combined with behavioral counseling programs.
- Understanding the addicting effects of nicotine and recognizing the health risks and other negative societal impacts of tobacco use, the CPDD supports social initiatives related to control of nicotine and tobacco products as well as advocating continuing research on this important public health problem.
- We support public awareness initiatives in two areas:
The public and particularly adolescents need to be unequivocally informed that tobacco products are addicting and should be avoided.
Labeling needs to be more accurate to better inform tobacco users about what their products contain, what they deliver and what their health effects are.
- We urge that tobacco cessation treatment be covered in health care plans. This initiative could yield great benefits to society in terms of reduced illness and premature death.
- We support efforts to reduce tobacco consumption through regulation and taxation. Increasing price can be an effective method to reduce tobacco use while providing new revenues to be used for support of treatment, prevention, and research initiatives targeted on tobacco dependence.
- We support measures that would reduce the adverse health effects associated with the use of tobacco products.
- We encourage rational policies for regulation of nicotine delivering medications based on objective pharmacological testing, as is done with other psychoactive drugs, and endorse the use of research findings to inform public policy decisions relating to all nicotine and tobacco control issues.
- We urge continued and expanded support for research on nicotine including its involvement in other forms of substance abuse. Such research will help society to develop more effective prevention and treatment strategies while continuing to better understand both the harmful and potentially beneficial effects of nicotine. The funding for research on nicotine and tobacco should be brought into line with the health costs of the use of tobacco products in this society.
Adopted by the Board of Directors December 9, 1995