Is nicotine really as addictive as heroin?
Britain's Royal College of Physicians has argued that nicotine should be treated like a controlled substance because "it's a powerful addictive substance like heroin and cocaine." The same article mentions that Britain's Tobacco Manufacturers Association disagrees. The tobacco group points out that unlike with hard drugs, people are able to give up tobacco every day.
Nevertheless, the American Heart Association states there are similarities between tobacco and heroin in terms of the "pharmacologic and behavioral characteristics that determine...addiction." Canada's Federal Health Department also agrees. Health Canada explains that "nicotine causes chemical or biological changes in the brain," a psychoactive effect. "Although it is less dramatic than heroin or cocaine, the strength of the addiction is just as powerful."
The moral? Don't smoke. If you do, seek help quitting. The benefits of quitting are both immediate and long term. For example, a "35-year-old man who quits smoking will, on average, increase his life expectancy by 5.1 years."
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