PhotoThere is a commonly held belief which states that giving up one vice leads to indulging more in the others. For example, one might believe that someone who is trying to quit smoking is likely to drink more to compensate. However, new research shows that this may not necessarily be the case.

In fact, a new study conducted at University College London shows that the exact opposite may be true. When analyzing the drinking habits of participants who were trying to quit smoking, the researchers actually reported lower levels of alcohol consumption.

“These results go against the commonly held view that people who stop smoking tend to drink more to compensate. It’s possible that they are heeding advice to try to avoid alcohol because of its link to relapse,” said lead author Jamie Brown.

Light drinkers

The study utilized nearly 6,300 participants who had reported smoking between March 2014 and September 2015 in the UK. Of those participants, 144 additionally reported that they had begun an attempt to quit smoking in the week leading up to the survey.

Participants completed a questionnaire called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, which was then cross-checked by researchers across all adults in England. The drinking habits of participants were scored as either “light” or “heavy” based on the answers they gave.

The researchers found that participants who were attempting to quit smoking were more likely to be classified as “light drinkers” compared to other participants who were not attempting to quit. While the findings will need to be confirmed by future research, it does provide some evidence that those looking to quit smoking may not necessarily face increased risk of alcohol abuse.

The full study has been published in the journal BMC Public Health

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