Nicotine Addiction

As a primary care physician who treats many tobacco-smoking patients, I read Mike Downey's March 29 column with great interest. He makes several good points about smokers who sue "tobacco," and his arguments about these litigious smokers would be valid except that he ignores one single glaring fact of tobacco use: the addiction problem. How can he write an entire column about tobacco without mentioning addiction a single time?

As I have watched my patients who suffer the cancers, the emphysemas and the profound social-outcast phenomena that prevail against smokers in Santa Barbara, I have been impressed by the fact that most of them desperately want to stop smoking but cannot. They are addicted and they just cannot stop. What efforts have the marketers of tobacco made to warn their customers that nicotine is one of the most powerfully addicting substances on Earth? Not enough, the juries are now saying, and the tobacco industry is finally being appropriately held accountable.

ROGER C. DUNHAM MD

Santa Barbara

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