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Dependence in a national sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander daily smokers

In 1988, the United States Surgeon General concluded that nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes dependence on smoking.1 The nicotine that is delivered to the brain when smoking interacts with the habits and sensory stimuli associated with smoking to reinforce the behaviour.2 Genetic factors also influence the biological processes of nicotine delivery, metabolism and dependence.2

Clinicians and scientists have sought indicators to predict the success or failure of quit attempts, beyond indicators of motivation. The best such measure is the Heaviness of Smoking Index (HSI),3 or at least one of its two component items: cigarettes per day (CPD) and the time to first cigarette (TTFC) after waking.4,5 These two items are a subset of the six items in the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence.6 There is also evidence that strong cravings (both before and after quitting) and shorter periods of abstinence on past attempts may independently predict failure of quit attempts.79 Identifying smokers who are most likely to have difficulty quitting is important in determining who might benefit from medications…