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Cigarette smoking is a common addiction, largely thanks to nicotine. When inhaled, nicotine passes across the alveoli in the lungs, into the bloodstream, and reaches the brain. There, it results in the production of dopamine, which induces pleasure, reduces stress, alters blood pressure and heart rate, heightens alertness and increases information-processing ability in the smoker. But smoking cigarettes also can cause severe health problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer, and is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and non-lung cancers. Smoking-related health care costs top $190 billion per year in the US, and cigarette smoking accounts for one of every five deaths in the US. Current strategies for smoking cessation are largely ineffective; an estimated 70–80% of attempts result in a return to smoking within 6 months. But now, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, NY) led by Ronald G. Crystal have developed a new vaccine that successfully protected mice against nicotine addiction for their entire lifetime with just a single dose.
Lab Anim. (NY) 41, 212 (2012).
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