Nicotine and caffeine, a detrimental pair

Coffee and tobacco consumptions often go hand in hand. Why is that so ? Is this combination really dangerous ? The evidence tends to prove that mixing nicotine and caffeine may not be a good and safe idea. Here’s why.

hand holding hot coffee outdoors

November 27, 2018

The links between coffee and tobacco

Whether they are smokers are not, most people associate – more or less consciously – conviviality with alcohol, tobacco and even coffee. Several studies pondered over the link between coffee and tobacco.

One of these studies, conducted by Istvan et Matarazzo and quoted by Robert Molimard showed that more than at third of smokers consumed a lot of coffee, whereas the proportion for non-smokers is below 15%. This tendency is also visible if we take into account former smokers, since they keep the habit of drinking coffee after their smoking cessation.

Another study made in Nanterre tried to analyze the addictive behaviors linked to several substances. It turns out that more than three quarters of the persons that were hospitalized were tobacco consumers, which is way above the national average and demonstrates that smokers constitute an at-risk population. Amongst these smokers, 65% drank coffee. On the other hand, only a slight majority of the whole group of patients drank coffee, but 83% of this small majority were smokers. If we go further, the study also demonstrated that the heaviest coffee drinkers were also the heaviest smokers. This truly tends to highlight this link between cigarette and caffeine!

A highly hazardous combination

The dangers of an excessive consumption of coffee are already well known, such as for instance an increased blood pressure. Nicotine has the same effect. Thus, in the event of an equivalent consumption of cigarettes, the chances of bradycardia soar. If it is common knowledge that pregnant women are strongly advised not to smoke, few people know that this warning is also valid regarding coffee. Indeed, coffee can cause side effects on the newborns’ weight. If a woman consumes both caffeine and nicotine, multiple fetal malformations can be observed. If you want more information regarding tobacco and pregnancy, you can read our article.

The origins of cigarette break

The conclusions of several studies suggest that a high consumption of cigarettes causally increases the consumption of coffee. Thus, the more a person drinks coffee, the more this person will smoke cigarettes, a causal link which does not necessarily work the other way. A study made in 1980 by Marshall WR showed that the more the subjects drank coffee, the higher was their craving for a cigarette. However, when the cigarette was presented first, the coffee did not follow automatically afterwards. Therefore, it was possible and logical to conclude that it is the coffee that calls on the cigarette, and not the other way around. Nonetheless, this correlation does not appear with decaffeinated coffee or tea.

The solution

Would substituting coffee with tea or water reduce cigarette consumption? Regarding tea, the studies have demonstrated that tobacco consumption is not proportional with the number of cups one drinks. Thus, it is possible to state that tea could prove to be a good alternative. As long as the craving for cigarette is not associated with tea consumption, a decrease in the cigarette addiction is likely. And if it works for tea, this also works for water. The latter even has an advantage and appears even less harmful since, contrary to coffee and tea, it is a perfectly neutral, caffeine-free drink.

woman in suit holding coffee