The "Charities" (arf arf) are prone to suggest that 153% of smokers urgently want to quit smoking, which they call an "addiction". Looney Luke Clancy was bouncing this particular ball in lavish surroundings in Europe this month, courtesy of his paymasters at Pfitzer. In the conference report, the 'Loon' admits to being on the Pharmaceutical payroll for his 'research' into replacement products, or nicotine patches to you and me. So, the message from that quarter is, if you are spending €8.00 a day on cigarettes, we will force you to buy patches instead, thus increasing my employers profits and lining my own pockets with more research money. For readers who may not be familiar with this particular Doctor, he is the Father of the Irish smoking ban, having been CEO of the terrorist organisation ASH at the time our feeble minded Minister for Health put pen to the law.

But, the big question is, is smoking an addiction, a dependence or a habit?

In a paper in Dec 2010, at a meeting of la Société d'Addictologie Francophone at the Sainte Anne Hospital in Paris, Robert Molimard gave us the historical context. "The big fraud in the tobacco issue was none other than the publication of the 1988 Surgeon General Report entitled "Nicotine Addiction''. This fraud is incomprehensible unless one sees the link with the launch of the nicotine gum. The major premise of the Report seems to be a syllogism that states: "Tobacco products cause a powerful addiction'' The minor premise is: "Tobacco contains a neurotropic poison - nicotine''. Hence follows the conclusion: "Therefore nicotine is responsible for the addictiveness of tobacco''. But there is no evidence that allows us to draw such a conclusion.

A host of other assumptions are possible, and there are even major arguments to oppose it, such as the fact that no cases of nicotine dependence have ever been documented when this substance was used in isolation, as was already established long before the "Medication Enterprises" began marketing nicotine as a form of medication. This duplicity is more than amazing when you consider how common it is for addicts to experiment with the purified extracts of their plants of choice. Since no formal evidence of dependence to pure nicotine has yet to be produced, the conclusion that tobacco is addictive is not a syllogism, but rather, pure sophistry. And yet, against all scientific rigor, this fallacy was implanted through repetition, hammered in as an unassailable truth, all with the support of health authorities and politicians. Thus the famous Fagerström test in the AFSSAPS good practice recommendations, continues to be called ''test for nicotine dependence''. Yet not one of its 6 items even refers to it. This is simply a test for cigarette dependence and we would have no objection if it were referred to as such. Is this a minor detail?

No, it is clearly an intentional mistake, extremely serious in its consequences both intellectually and scientifically. Because having arbitrarily decided that nicotine alone explains tobacco dependence and having it engrained in the minds of doctors, the authorities and the public, any research on the other possible factors of this dependency is now excluded in advance and a vast new market is made available for commercial exploitation by the pharmaceutical industry".

Many years ago in Secondary School, we had a history teacher who was besotted with Nazi Germany. As a result, we all read a copy of Mein Kampf. One quote from that collection of confused ramblings, could paraphrase the piece above. The bold Adolf, in 1925 wrote, "The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies, but would be ashamed to tell big lies". Could it be possible that the Surgeon General himself would tell such an enormous lie for whatever reason?

If indeed, smoking is merely a habit that is engaged in willingly, then what have the psychologists to say on the topic. In 1976, Columbia University psychologist Stanley Schachter wrote: "We smoke because we're physically addicted to nicotine. Period." Dr. Schachter was himself a chain smoker at the time. But just six years later, in 1982, Dr. Schachter wrote in Psychology Today: "The generally accepted professional and public impression that nicotine addiction is an almost hopelessly difficult condition to correct is flatly wrong. People can and do cure themselves of smoking. They do so in large numbers and for long periods of time, and in many cases, apparently, they're able to do so permanently." So, what happened between 1976 and 1982? Dr. Schachter began talking to ex-smokers. In fact he interviewed 77 smokers who had tried to quit on their own. He reported: "66% were successful, a higher rate than most with professional help." He discovered that most self-quitters said their only technique was deciding to stop.

Which leads neatly to Allen Carr's book. Readers beware though, because he's another that cites smoking as an addiction. He asserts that willpower is not required to quit smoking. His contention was that "fear of "giving up" is what causes the majority of smokers to continue smoking, thereby necessitating the smoker's perpetuation of the illusion of genuine enjoyment, as a moral justification of the inherent absurdity of smoking in the face of overwhelming medical and scientific evidence of its dangers". Anecdotes I have heard suggest that his book works far better than the pathetic help-lines run by the "charities" (arf arf).

For the rest of us that will stubbornly continue to smoke regardless, research has shown that the act of smoking releases endorphins in the brain. These are the pleasure lads, the same fellas responsible for orgasms. You could see how that might be habit forming.