OBJECTIVE: To identify journals that have a focus on human nicotine/smoking research and to investigate the coverage of smoking in "high-impact" journals. DESIGN: The MEDLINE computer database was searched for English-language articles on human studies published in 1988-1992 using "nicotine", "smoking", "smoking cessation", "tobacco", or "tobacco use disorder" as focus descriptors. This search was supplemented with a similar search of the PSYCLIT computer database. Fifty-eight journals containing at least 20 nicotine/smoking articles over the five years were analysed for impact factor (IF; citations per article). RESULTS: Among the journals with the highest percentage of nicotine- or smoking-focused articles (that is, 9-39% of their articles were on nicotine/smoking), Addiction, American Journal of Public Health, Cancer Causes and Control, Health Psychology, and Preventive Medicine had the greatest IF (range = 1.3-2.6). Among the journals highest in impact factor (IF > 3), only American Journal of Epidemiology, American Review of Respiratory Disease, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and Journal of the American Medical Association published more than 10 nicotine/smoking articles per year (3-5% of all articles). Of these, only Journal of the American Medical Association published a large number of nicotine/smoking articles (32 per year). CONCLUSIONS: Although smoking causes 20% of all mortality in developed countries, the topic is not adequately covered in high-impact journals. Most smoking research is published in low-impact journals.
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