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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quitting Cigarettes Harder for Heavy Drinkers

It is often the case that alcohol and cigarettes go hand in hand, there isn’t a bar in the United States that doesn’t have a smoking area near one of the establishment's exits. In many cases, when people are asked if they smoke, a common response heard is, ‘only when I drink.’ In fact, new research suggests that smokers who drink heavily have a tougher time quitting cigarettes than smokers who drink moderately or not at all.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Yale Cancer Center and Yale School of Medicine, found that using tobacco-oriented telephone counseling to help people with hazardous drinking habits quit, can also help smokers. The researchers defined hazardous drinking as a weekly consumption of at least 14 drinks for men and seven drinks for women at least once in the past year.

The researchers point out the need for telephonic counseling quitline programs, research indicates that hazardous-drinking smokers are at a greater risk of developing several types of cancer and other serious health problems, than smokers who drink less. The researchers determined that 20% of all tobacco quitline callers drink at hazardous levels, said the study’s principal investigator, Benjamin A. Toll, associate professor of psychiatry and program director of the Smoking Cessation Service at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale in New Haven.

“This was the first quitline study to offer alcohol intervention counseling to hazardous drinking smokers, and we found that the quitline coaches can be trained to counsel that group effectively to improve smoking cessation and limit alcohol use,” Toll said. “If quitlines across the country use this method, we could reach millions of people seeking help.”

The research was supported by the:
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • New York State Department of Health
  • Connecticut State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
The study was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Yale News

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