Maybe you exercise regularly and eat healthily. Did you know that you can undo the benefits from 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 the first 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.[1] 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.[2] 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?

Social Norms on Smoking and Drinking

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 with friends who do so, to be socially accepted. This is true especially for men.[3,4]

The problem with smoking is that it can ingrained as a daily ritual - it may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee or when you see your friends smoking, and not a conscious decision.[4] Unfortunately, smoking and drinking tend to go together. By engaging in such behaviour among friends, one bad habit can lead to two, multiplying the negative effects to your body. 

How Can I Help Myself Cut Down or Quit?

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[5]:

  • 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 via the cold turkey method is known to be one of the most effective. 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.

Resources for Quitting

Join the 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.

Click here for other additional support.

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  1. Wannamethee S.G, et al. 1998, Alcohol, coronary heart disease and stroke: an examination of the J-shaped curve, Neuroepidemiology, 17(6); 288-95. Accessed from on 1 Feb 2022.
  2. George, O. (2015, Apr 14). TSRI Scientists Find that Nicotine Use Increases Compulsive Alcohol Consumption. The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). Retrieved September 2016 from
  3. Picco, L., Subramaniam, M., Abdin, E., Vaingankar, J. A., & Chong, S. A. (2012). Smoking and Nicotine Dependence in Singapore: Findings from a Cross-Sectional Epidemiological Study. The Annals, 41(8), 10-10. Retrieved September 2016 from
  4. Norton, C. (1999, May 3). Men smoke cigarettes to deal with their emotions. Independent. Retrieved September 2016 from
  5. Innes, E. (2013, Mar 13). Men smoke to have fun, but for stressed-out women, it's all about preserving inner calm. Mail Online. Retrieved September 2015 from NHS England. (n.d.). Tips on cutting down [Website].
  6. NHS England. (n.d.). Tips on cutting down [Website]. Retrieved September 2016 from