A Health Debate That Won't Die

The fact that puffing on a cigarette is an unhealthy activity is no longer seriously disputed, even by the tobacco industry. Much of the current medical debate has shifted to two related questions: Is nicotine addictive? And how dangerous is environmental tobacco smoke?

Tobacco companies insist that nicotine, which is contained in varying amounts in all cigarettes, does not create a habit so powerful that it impairs a person's ability to quit. But the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that nicotine is an addictive substance. A Surgeon General's report has concluded it is as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

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