[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
December 11, 1991

Smoking: The Artificial Passion

Author Affiliations

University of Kansas Kansas City

University of Kansas Kansas City

JAMA. 1991;266(22):3202. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470220118041

This book tells you everything you might want to know about smoking cigarettes except why. Why do 50 million Americans smoke?

There are many theories and lots of data. The problem is the theories are hard to confirm and the data are conflicting. After thousands of scientific investigations on the subject, no one really knows why people smoke. Nicotine is a dirty drug, the pharmacologists say, and this book—lucidly and entertainingly— documents how right they are.

In general, there are two theories: Smoking improves mental efficiency. Smokers smoke because they are addicted to cigarettes.

Stanley Schachter of Columbia University, a supporter of the latter theory, concludes that "the heavy smoker gets nothing out of smoking. He smokes only to prevent withdrawal."

By now, everyone uninfluenced by mercenary considerations believes nicotine is addictive. Animals will work hard to get nicotine, almost as hard as they will work for cocaine. You don't