Smoking and drinking reinforce each other to multiply health problems. Find out how to break the habit and successfully quit both for an addiction-free lifestyle.
Maybe you exercise regularly and eat healthily. Did you know that you can undo these good habits with bad ones like smoking and drinking?
Regular smoking and drinking increases your risk of cancers of the lung and liver. The damage to your body starts from smoking just one cigarette. Some people believe alcohol is good for the heart but it is not entirely true. Even though red wine does contain natural antioxidants, this is in small amounts and the risks of alcohol outweigh the benefits.
 Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a loss of productivity, risky behaviour such as drink driving, and even violent behaviour.
A study conducted by The Scripps Research Institute in US showed that nicotine exposure promotes alcohol dependence. This explains why smoking and drinking tend to go hand-in-hand. In other words, it’s a vicious cycle—smoking reinforces drinking and vice versa.
Related: Smoking - Casual Habit or Addiction?
Some people smoke or drink excessively to relieve stress or cope with problems. Studies have shown that social norms play a part in shaping behaviour. Often, people smoke or drink among friends who do so, to be socially accepted. This is true especially for men.[3,4]
The problem with smoking is that it becomes behaviour that is part of your life, meaning that smoking becomes an auto-response, not a conscious decision. Unfortunately, smoking and drinking tend to go together. By engaging in such behaviour among friends, one bad habit leads to two, multiplying the negative effects to your body.
Cool Places to Hang out Without Lighting Up
If you hang out with friends who smoke and drink, here are a few ways that you can still cut down on your cigarette and alcohol consumption:
Break the association of smoking with drinking. By not engaging in both sets of behaviours at once, you can focus on stopping one habit at a time, instead of both, which can be daunting in the beginning.
Cut back a little each day e.g., have one less cigarette or drink per day so that every day you cut down is a small success to be celebrated.
Consider alternative activities for future social gatherings: sports/games, social gatherings in non-drinking/smoking areas.
Have smaller-sized drinks.
Drink water as a ‘spacer’ between drinks.
For smokers aiming to quit smoking completely, quitting cold turkey is known to be one of the most effective methods. But if you feel that you are not ready to quit immediately, you can consider these methods:
Gradual reduction method i.e. start by cutting down the number of cigarettes each day
Delay method i.e. put off having a cigarette as long as possible
Nicotine replacement therapy e.g., nicotine gum, skin patches, or lozenges
Enlist the support of family and friends in your journey to quit.
I Quit Programme and remain smoke free for 28 days and you are 5 times more likely to quit smoking. You can nominate your loved ones as a supporter when you sign up for the programme. Validate your smoke-free status and redeem a HPB eVoucher* worth $50 at the 28th day milestone. Keep going and you'll also receive eVouchers* worth $30 and $20 at the 3rd month and 6th month milestone respectively!
*Terms and conditions apply.
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This article was last reviewed on
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
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The Health Promotion Board (HPB) conducts annual school health visits to provide free health screening and immunisation services. HPB also conducts health education and health promotion programmes on lifestyle practices. HPB’s Student Health Centre, which generally provides preventive and screening services, follows up children referred from the school visits above.
Stay smoke-free for 28 days and you're 5 times more likely to quit for good.
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