Smokers who try to give up tobacco drink less alcohol than other smokers, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed survey data from nearly 6,300 smokers in England, including 144 who said they had attempted to quit smoking the week before they were surveyed.
Those who tried to quit cigarettes drank less alcohol and were less likely to binge drink than those who did not try to quit.
“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,” said study lead author Jamie Brown, from University College London.
The reasons for the findings aren’t clear. Smokers may reduce their alcohol consumption when trying to quit smoking to lower the risk of relapse, or people who drink less may be more likely to quit smoking, the researchers suggested.
If the latter is true, smokers who are heavier drinkers may need additional help to quit smoking, according to Brown.
The findings were published July 21 in the journal BMC Public Health.
“We can’t yet determine the direction of causality. Further research is needed to disentangle whether attempts to quit smoking precede attempts to restrict alcohol consumption or vice versa. We’d also need to rule out other factors which make both more likely,” Brown said in a journal news release.
The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.