Gearing up for a wild ‘n crazy night out? Think twice before reaching for that pack of cigarettes (for many reasons, but we’ll stay focused here). Research shows smoking while drinking ups the ouch factor of hangovers. Before heading to that indulgent New Year’s soiree, read up on the double-trouble effects of boozing and lighting up.
A study at Brown University found people who dragged on a cigarette or two while downing libations were twice as likely to experience painful hangover symptoms than those who boozed without smoking
Why It Matters
About 19 percent of the 45 million smokers in the United States don’t hit the cigs (or cigars or pipes) every day. These “social smokers” only light up once or twice a week, often at parties and on weekend “cheat days.” The combined effect of nicotine and alcohol causes a major spike of dopamine, the chemical that’s’ responsible for the warm-and-fuzzy feeling we get after a glass or two of bubbly—which helps explain the allure of social smoking. But adding cigarettes to the mix can also counteract the sedative side effects of alcohol, making partygoers more active and ready to hit the dance floor instead of passing out on the couch. Most people know that cigarettes are unhealthy (thanks, after-school specials!), but social smokers may write off the harmful effects of tobacco because they partake so infrequently. Turns out, even smoking occasionally can slow down arterial responsiveness (aka how quickly and smoothly blood can move through arteries and veins) and lead to more serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. And the difference between a once-weekly cigarette and a full-blown nicotine habit is a much more slippery slope than most weekend smokers realize. Social smokers are less likely to want to quit smoking than established pack-a-day smokers, probably because they don’t perceive their occasional habit as a health threat
Is It Legit?
While smoking can’t cause a hangover by itself, it’s one of the Russian Roulette of factors—including sleep deprivation, health status, genetics, food intake, and so on—that determines how gnarly a given Sunday morning will be