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Quit Smoking Hotline Can Identify Hazardous Drinking

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Almost one-quarter of people who call into the New York State Smoker’s Quitline also report hazardous drinking, according to a new study. Researchers say the findings suggest that smoking cessation hotlines can provide valuable brief alcohol interventions for high-risk drinkers.

Researchers from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut analyzed reports of alcohol use among 88,479 callers to New York’s hotline, according to ABC News. They also conducted follow-up interviews with some of the callers to compare smoking cessation rates for those who were hazardous drinkers, moderate drinkers and non-drinkers, according to a journal news release.

They found the smokers who also reported a hazardous drinking pattern were less likely to quit smoking, compared with those who reported moderate drinking.

“Once people start drinking, there is a trigger to start smoking,” said study author Benjamin Toll. “They lose their inhibition to tobacco.” His next study will evaluate whether adding five minutes of alcohol abuse counseling to smoking cessation hotline conversations will increase smoking cessation rates. “Our hope is that we can reduce smoking by getting people to drink less,” Toll added.

Previous studies have suggested that smokers are less likely to quit if they also abuse alcohol. These studies suggest that adding a brief alcohol intervention to smoking cessation treatments may boost success rates.

The study appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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