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Addict Behav. 2014 Mar;39(3):637-43. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.11.018. Epub 2013 Nov 27.

Reciprocal effects of alcohol and nicotine in smoking cessation treatment studies.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



Smoking and alcohol use are highly related; as such the present study investigated whether alcohol use is associated with failure in tobacco cessation attempts. We first examined the self-reported drinking behavior and smoking over the course of a year at a basic level. Next, we addressed two hypotheses to characterize this relationship at a deeper level: (Hypothesis 1) Alcohol use would be lower for those who attempted to quit smoking (quit for one or more days) during the year compared to those who never quit, and (Hypothesis 2) for those who relapsed to smoking after a quit increases in alcohol consumption would be positively associated with increases in smoking.


Subjects were participants in two smoking cessation programs. One group of participants (N=139) was part of a smoking cessation study in alcohol dependent smokers in early recovery and the other group of participants (N=163) was drawn from a smoking cessation study for HIV positive smokers. H1 was tested using t-tests. For H2, a time series analysis examined relationships between smoking and alcohol use within person over a one year period. For H1 and for H2, the analyses utilized bivariate time series procedures. Timeline follow-back data allowed for detailed daily reports of both tobacco and alcohol use.


In the overall sample, there was no difference in alcohol use between those who stopped smoking and those who never stopped. However, when broken up by study, a difference was found in the alcohol dependent sample such that mean drinks were higher for those who stopped compared to those who never stopped smoking (H1). The results indicated a high number of positive significant cross-correlations between tobacco and alcohol use such that one substance predicted current, as well as past and future use of the alternate substance. Same-day cross-correlations were the most common, and dissipated with time (H2).


This analysis provided insights into the proximal influence of one substance on the other. Alcohol is related to relapse in smoking cessation attempts. It is important that smoking cessation efforts in alcohol using populations consider alcohol use in treatment.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Drinking; Smoking; Smoking cessation; Time series analysis; Timeline follow-back

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