This article reviews the cultural history of man's relationship with tobacco and the steps in the discovery of tobacco addiction. Nicotine dependence (ND) or nicotine addiction (NA), among other forms of drug addiction, continues to be a significant public health problem in the world, as it is associated with major severe diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Evidence for a genetic influence on smoking behavior and ND has prompted a search for susceptibility genes. Proof has recently accumulated that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the genetic region encoding the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits α5, α3, and β4 are associated with smoking and ND. In this review, we consider tobacco as the archetype of substance addiction and describe the evolution of the tobacco habit from elite users to lower socioeconomic abusers (by mass marketing and specific targeting of vulnerable groups by the tobacco industry) to exemplify detrimental behavior with major threats to public health. Finally, we discuss the reasons for the difficulty of quitting addictions/habits and highlight possible solutions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- History and Philosophy of Science
- Issues, ethics and legal aspects
- Health Policy