Coffee and Smoking — What’s the Connection?

Earlier this January, the World Health Organization picked May 31, 2011 as the designated “World No Smoking Day”.  Here in the U.S., we have designated the third Thursday of November - this year November 17 - as the ” Great American Smokeout”.

Tobacco is estimated to have caused worldwide deaths of 100 million people in the 20th century.  The World Health Organization estimates that perhaps 1 billion people’s deaths in the 21st century could come about as a result of smoking.  Inhaling tobacco smoke is far and away the most preventable cause of premature death.

Smoking and coffee drinking have long been seen as going together, as many current and former smokers will attest. A cup of coffee with a cigarette is actually a pretty good experience is what they’ll say.

So what’s the connection?  What’s going on?

Both are stimulants.  But beyond that, when someone smokes a cigarette, the airflow in their lungs is constricted.  When coffee is consumed, the caffeine helps to open the airflows.  One helps to offeset the other.  Studies have shown that smokers who drink decaffeinated coffee smoke considerably more cigarettes in a day than if they were to drink caffeinated coffee – 34 cigarettes a day for four cups of decaf  per day, versus 19 cigarettes a day for four cups of caffeinated coffee.  Compared to not drinking coffee at all, those people smoked a whopping 44 cigarettes a day.

It certainly would appear that coffee, or more specifically caffeine, and the chlorogenic acids and lactones from coffee can help to decrease the craving for tobacco.

Coffee and tobacco, while often experienced together, pose quite the contrast in what they do to the human experience.  Drinking one can help prevent a host of ailments including heart disease, certain cancers, Type 2 Diabetes, among others.  Smoking the other can lead to chronic bronchitis, lung disease, emphysema, and eventual premature death.

Quitting smoking can make the coffee experience even better.  The bad taste of tobacco can be replaced with the pleasant taste of coffee, and the coffee will taste better to boot.


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