Nature journal is ‘silly’ on addiction

Wednesday 08 July 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press releaseEmbargo 8 July 1998 18:00 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

Nature journal is “silly” on nicotineaddiction

ASH today expressed its dismay at a press release from the influential scientificjournal Nature which jokingly suggests that giving up smoking may be harmful. Nature’s‘spin’ on a report showing increased accidents among smokers trying to quit onNo Smoking Day has been given a supposedly humorous treatment in the press release, withthe headline “and finally, not smoking is bad for you”.

In fact the study is a serious contribution to the body of research on nicotineaddiction and shows that:

  • nicotine addiction is a serious physical and psychological condition, not just a habit;
  • that giving up smoking is a very good idea, but not without difficulties;
  • that people attempting to give up smoking would be well advised to try nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum etc.) to temper the effects of nicotine craving.

The headline in the press release is plain wrong and the study attempts to add to theknowledge about how people can give up smoking rather than suggest they should continue.

Clive Bates of ASH said:

“It’s as if there’s a blind spot about the world’s most widespread source of mass addiction. If the study had been about withdrawal from heroin, Nature wouldn’t joke about it, and no-one would suggest that heroin is good for you – even for fun.”

ASH described Nature’s spinning as “silly” and suggested it wasan attempt to set a populist story running by misrepresenting the conclusions and messageof a serious and valuable study.

“We’re all for making science more accessible, interesting and even amusing, but smoking causes 120,000 premature deaths per year in the UK and up to 10 million consumers are addicted to nicotine. It just isn’t all that funny.” said Bates.

“There is very little that is worse for you than smoking, and if giving upinvolves risks and discomforts and a struggle, it will be worth it in the long run.”



Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Amanda Sandford, Communications Director (020) 7739 5902

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