AIMS Evidence-based changes planned for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM-5) substance use disorders (SUDs) include combining dependence and three of the abuse criteria into one disorder and adding a criterion indicating craving. Because DSM-IV did not include a category for nicotine abuse, little empirical support is available for aligning the nicotine use disorder criteria with the DSM-5 criteria for other SUDs. DESIGN Latent variable analyses, bootstrap tests and likelihood ratio tests were used to explore the unidimensionality, psychometric properties and information of the nicotine criteria. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS A sample of household residents selected from the Israeli population register yielded 727 life-time cigarette smokers. MEASUREMENTS DSM-IV nicotine dependence criteria and proposed abuse and craving criteria, assessed with a structured interview. FINDINGS Three abuse criteria (hazardous use, social/interpersonal problems and neglect roles) were prevalent among smokers, formed a unidimensional latent trait with nicotine dependence criteria, were intermixed with dependence criteria across the severity spectrum and significantly increased the diagnostic information over the dependence-only model. A craving criterion was shown to fit well with the other criteria. CONCLUSION Similar to findings from research on other substances, nicotine dependence, abuse and craving criteria appear to derive from a common underlying dimension. The results support alignment of nicotine criteria with those for alcohol and drug use disorders in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition.