Family Medicine pp 1662-1665 | Cite as

Tobacco Abuse and Dependence

  • Henry S. Willner


Smoking is a widespread habit in the United States. Thirty-three percent of the adult population (approximately 60 million individuals) smoke cigarettes.1 Of note is that 40%–55% of high school seniors smoke,2 and that teenage smoking is increasing.3 Smoking is a multifaceted pharmacologic and psychosocial addiction. Despite a long history of public disfavor and significant health and financial disincentives, the habit is maintained by strong pharmacologic and psychological rewards, which are explained by the quality of reinforcement as elaborated by learning theory.4 The number of reinforced smoking “trials” is significant because each smoker uses approximately 7300 cigarettes per year, with seven to ten puffs from each, and each cigarette provides instant gratification with the inhaled aerosol traveling from the lung to the brain in 6–8 seconds. Thus the act of smoking meets two important requirements for behavioral conditioning; it is reinforced rapidly and repeated often.5


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Family Physician Smoking Abstinence Tobacco Abuse Financial Disincentive 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

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  • Henry S. Willner

There are no affiliations available

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