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February 28, 1986

Statistics, Smoking, and Health

Author Affiliations

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Rutgers Medical School New Brunswick

JAMA. 1986;255(8):1015-1016. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370080037010

To the Editor.—  Dr Hickey1 suggests that tobacco use may be a manifestation of a primary hormonal deficiency relieved by nicotine. This opinion is part of a larger speculative web, namely, that tobacco use is genetically predetermined and that the people destined to use tobacco are the very people who are prone to have smaller babies and who are most likely to develop the sundry ills more commonly regarded as being caused by tobacco use.1-3Hickey's hypothesis provides an alternative explanation for the observation that people who use tobacco often feel more normal while smoking than immediately after stopping. The conventional interpretation of this phenomenon is that nicotine is a psychoactive drug that induces tolerance, and the abrupt cessation of tobacco use often precipitates a withdrawal syndrome.4,5 As in alcohol or narcotic withdrawal, the newly abstinent person may feel ill and experience a temporary decrement in performance.Mangan