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Is Nicotine Addictive? Israeli Scientist Challenges Findings

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – An Israeli scientist will challenge the widely held belief that nicotine is addictive in a talk on Wednesday, June 26, at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The speaker, Hanan Frenk, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Tel Aviv University, has written a book, A Critique of Nicotine Addiction, which takes on the findings of the U.S. Surgeon General and the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom.

Frenk''s talk will be at 4 p.m. on June 26 in Room G28 in the Hanes Research Building. It will be preceded by refreshments at 3:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.

In a summary of what he planned to discuss, Frenk said, "Since the 1988 Report of the Surgeon General, the statements that nicotine is as ''addictive'' as heroin and cocaine, that cigarettes are efficient nicotine devices delivering ''hits'' to the brain within seconds, have become truisms like the statement that water is wet. These statements have largely gone unchallenged…."

Frenk argues, "A critical evaluation of the evidence that the Surgeon General mustered for his conclusions and the evidence that has been accumulating since, shows that this evidence is extremely weak and certainly not compelling. In fact, many better controlled studies show that nicotine is aversive both to animals and humans, and limits cigarette smoking rather than maintains it."

Frenk said his presentation would focus on three primary addiction criteria proposed by the Surgeon General: in order to be addictive, a substance must lead to highly controlled or compulsive use, have psychoactive effects, and result in drug-reinforced behavior.

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