Skip to main content

Why do I want to smoke when I drink?

Some people crave alcohol when they are smoking, and crave cigarettes when they are drinking. Why is this?

Nicotine and alcohol - a bad mix

Nicotine actually changes how the brain responds to alcohol, which means more alcohol is needed before you get the same feel-good response that someone who doesn’t smoke gets after a couple of drinks. Meanwhile, the alcohol increases the urge to smoke, and the level of feel-good chemicals produced in the brain by nicotine. The result is that one encourages the other.

Smoking makes hangovers worse!

If you smoke, you're more likely to have hangovers and to have worse hangovers when you have a lot to drink. 

Many people who smoke talk about waking up after a big night and feeling sick because they've had too many drinks and too many cigarettes. How much money could you save, and how much better would you feel, if you weren't blowing money on smokes and booze? 

How to manage quitting and alcohol

The best thing you can do is steer clear of Friday or Saturday night drinks, just for a few weeks until your body gets used to being without nicotine.

If that’s not possible, use these tips to fight the urge to smoke when you’re around alcohol and cigarettes:

  • Take something to keep your hands busy – playing with your necklace, watch or phone can help.

  • Take a walk around the block or jump in a taxi if it's getting tough. 

  • Consider what you’ll say to people if they offer you a smoke. Something polite like ‘No thank you, I don’t smoke anymore’ is a good idea.

  • Ask your friends to support your decision to quit smoking and to not offer you cigarettes.

  • Stick to one or two drinks, or drink water between drinks. Too much alcohol can weaken your plan to stop smoking and make you more likely to have a cigarette. 

  • Be wary of the “just one” thought. It usually leads to full-time smoking again and people who don’t smoke don’t need “just one” anyway.

Each time you resist a craving you’re helping your mind to break the link between that activity – such as drinking and smoking. You’re teaching yourself not to smoke, one day and one habit at a time.

If you need a little more support, give Quitline (13 7848) a call or request a Quitline callback. Quitline counsellors can help you build a strategy for a night out without falling back on smoking. 

There are many ways to contact Quitline:

  • Call 13 7848

  • Text us on 0482 090 634

  • Chat online via webchat at

  • Message us on WhatsApp 61 385 832 920 or Facebook Messenger @quitvic

  • Or ask us to call you back for free at

Request a callback

Please note,this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.  

If you would like to provide feedback, please contact 

Last updated January 2024

Preparing to quit
Reasons to quit

Explore other support options

There are a range of support options available to help you quit.

Free Quit Support

Calling the Quitline increases your chance of quitting successfully.
Quitline counsellors are trained to listen carefully to you to help meet your needs.

Free Tools