Date of this Version
Nebr Symp Motiv. 2009 ; 55: 1–3.
Tobacco use is a worldwide health problem. As so well stated by Mackay and Ericksen (2002), “No other consumer product is as dangerous, or kills as many people. Tobacco kills more than AIDS, legal drugs, illegal drugs, road accidents, murder, and suicide combined” (p. 36). Imagine the lives saved, and the amount of pain, emotional suffering, and fiscal burden alleviated, if we could devise approaches that helped current tobacco users quit and remain abstinent, and prevented new smokers from emerging. Although these idealistic goals are worth pursuing, improving cessation rates by only a small fraction, or making small gains in preventing people from experimenting with tobacco, would nevertheless translate into significant improvement in the health and well-being of countless thousands worldwide as well as financial savings to employers, government institutions, and the heath care system. Even such small, incremental steps require a concerted and coordinated effort by basic scientists, clinical researchers and practitioners, and policy makers to discover the basis of tobacco dependence and apply that knowledge to the implementation of prevention policies and smoking cessation aids. This year's Nebraska Symposium on Motivation was devoted to research on the drug that is widely believed to form the basis of tobacco use and dependence, nicotine.