Smokers trying to quit could end up boozing less as well
26th July 2016
smokingThose trying to quit smoking for the countless health benefits will be delighted to hear there could be an additional booster from ditching the cigarettes – you may also end up giving up drinking too! This is according to the findings from a new study, conducted at University College London, where researchers realised that previous studies already identified links between smoking and drink. After all, how many of us have seen someone gulping down a pint whilst simultaneously having a cigarette lit and ready to smoke. For the new study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, researchers conducted household surveys, finding that 6,287 out of 31,878 people reported smoking between the period of March 2014 and September 2015. Of these, it was discovered 144 smokers had made an attempt to stop smoking in the week leading up to the survey. Moreover, they had completed a validated questionnaire known as the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Researchers classified the smokers as light or heavy drinkers - and analysed their current attempt to cut down on alcohol. They then looked at their recent attempt to stop smoking, finding that the ex-smokers generally drank less alcohol within the first week of ditching cigarettes, and they were also less inclined to binge drink. In addition, they were found to be more likely to be 'light drinkers' – staying inside the governmental drinking guidelines, in comparison to the smokers who were not trying to stop smoking. Lead author Jamie Brown, from University College London, England, said: “This study found that smokers who reported attempting to stop within the last week had lower levels of alcohol consumption, especially binging.” He added, “These results go against the commonly held view that people who stop smoking tend to drink more to compensate. “It's possible that they are heeding advice to try to avoid alcohol because of its link to relapse.” The study also took into account what accessible literature there was on regarding the relationship between smoking and alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol is often thought to be a sign of a lapse - seeing newly-quit smokers going back to their old habits. For this reason, smokers are often told to reduce alcohol intake whilst trying to quit. Dr Brown noted that this was an observational study and is unable to say for certain if stopping smoking can cause a decrease in drinking or vice versa. He did say that smokers could choose to ditch that extra glass of wine or pint of beer during their attempt to quit smoking, as a booster to their chances of being successful. On the other hand, it could be the case that those who drink less are simply more likely to quit smoking. Therefore, smokers that are also heavy drinkers will need more forms of encouragement to stub out in comparison to other groups. In addition to money spent on trying to get people to stop smoking, future health campaigns could also target people trying to quit smoking in order to reduce their drinking.