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Alcohol and Quitting Smoking
By the Quitter's Circle Staff
June 22, 2016

Alcohol and Quitting Smoking

As summer approaches, your social calendar may already be filling up. You may be invited to backyard BBQs, boat rides on the lake, sporting events and family celebrations– all events that can involve alcohol.

For some people who are trying to quit smoking, alcohol (like coffee or stress) can be a trigger to smoke. Drinking can also lower one’s inhibitions, making it harder to stick to your quit plan. This is why many experts advise limiting the use of alcohol during your quit journey.

Because smoking and drinking are so often done at the same time, researchers have tried to understand how alcohol can impact quit attempts. In a 2013 study of young adult smokers, 80 percent of those that tried to quit reported that drinking alcohol made it harder. In another survey of ex-smokers, 47 percent said that drinking alcohol led them to a slip- up.

It’s important to plan ahead for how you’ll deal with social situations that may involve alcohol and smoking.

Here are some tips:

  • During the first few weeks of your quit journey, you may want to stay away from bars and social events that involve alcohol and smoking. Turn to your circle of supporters to help plan fun activities that don’t necessarily involve alcohol and smoking, such as a movie, a board game night, or a game of frisbee in the park.
  • Try out some non-alcoholic beverages, such as this recipe for a watermelon strawberry cooler. If you’re watching your calories, unsweetened iced tea and seltzer with a slice of lemon are good alternatives.
  • If you’re at a party and others nearby are smoking, be prepared to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, take a walk outside or find a private corner and reach out to a supporter on the Quitter’s Circle app.
  • Have sugarless gum, toothpicks, hard candy or a lollipop available to cope with cravings.
  • If you know you have an alcohol-related social event coming up, invite one of your supporters to join you and help you stick to your quit plan.


See additional quit smoking resources from our partner American Lung Association.