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Tobacco Quitlines Need to Assess and Intervene with Callers' Hazardous Drinking


  • Portions of these data were presented as a poster at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco conference in Baltimore, Maryland on Thursday, February 25, 2010.

Reprint requests: Benjamin A. Toll, Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 1 Long Wharf Drive, Box 18, New Haven, CT 06511; Tel.: 203-974-5767; Fax: 203-974-5790; E-mail:



Based on published data showing that daily smokers have high rates of hazardous drinking and higher rates of smoking relapse, we hypothesized that New York State Smokers' Quitline (NYSSQL) callers would exhibit elevated rates of risky drinking and risky drinking callers would report lower rates of smoking cessation.


We assessed rates of hazardous drinking among 88,479 callers to the NYSSQL using modified NIAAA guidelines. Using 2 routine NYSSQL short-term follow-up interviews (n = 14,123 and n = 24,579) and a 3-month follow-up interview (n = 2,833), we also compared smoking cessation rates for callers who met criteria for hazardous drinking compared to moderate drinkers and nondrinkers.


At baseline, 56% of callers reported drinking, and 23% reported hazardous drinking using modified NIAAA guidelines. Hazardous drinkers did not differ on measures of smoking cessation outcomes compared to nondrinkers but did have lower smoking cessation rates compared to persons who reported moderate alcohol consumption for the enhanced services program 1-week follow-up (adjusted OR [95% CI] = 1.09 [1.01, 1.17], p = 0.04) and the standard 2-week follow-up (adjusted OR [95% CI] = 1.17 [1.07, 1.29], p = 0.001).


Nearly a quarter of smokers calling the NYSSQL reported a hazardous drinking pattern, which was associated with lower cessation outcomes compared to those who reported a moderate drinking profile. Given the large number of high-risk drinkers who can be identified through a quitline, tobacco quitlines may provide a venue for providing brief alcohol interventions to these high-risk drinkers. Future studies should evaluate whether a brief alcohol intervention would result in improved smoking cessation rates for hazardous drinking smokers.