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The Idiosyncratic Definition of Nicotine Dependence

Naomi Breslau, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(10):973-974. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830220103019.
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In an issue of the Archives, Fergusson et al1 reported on the association between depressive disorders and nicotine dependence in a cohort of 16-year-olds in Christchurch, New Zealand. The authors state that subjects were classified as meeting DSM-III-R criteria if they smoked at least 5 cigarettes per day and reported 2 or more symptoms of nicotine dependence. They add that these criteria "broadly correspond to the criterion of mild nicotine dependence used by Breslau et al."2 The symptoms of nicotine dependence used in this definition are described in the text as "concerned with failure to quit or reduce smoking, irritability when cigarettes were unavailable, difficulties in going a day without a cigarette, morning cough, needing a cigarette first thing in the morning, continued smoking despite medical advice, and stealing money or using savings to obtain cigarettes."1 Although these 7 symptoms seem to be related to level

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