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Turqoise stovetop coffee percolators in a repeating pattern


You’ve seen this scenario portrayed in countless movies and everyday life: coffee in one hand, cigarette in the other. It’s no wonder that caffeine and nicotine have such a strong relationship.

1. Both coffee and smoking are stimulants

Caffeine and nicotine are both chemicals that affect your brain by increasing focus and physiological arousal. Both can increase blood pressure, making you feel temporarily alert. They have several side effects in common too, such as insomnia and an elevated heart rate.


2. Both coffee and smoking are addictive

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) defines addiction as ‘problematic use of a substance.’ Addiction can explain the withdrawal symptoms you might feel when you stop using a substance, for example getting a headache when you don’t have your morning coffee.

3. Nicotine makes you lose caffeine

Nicotine doubles the rate at which the body depletes caffeine. This happens because nicotine interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and use caffeine. That’s why it takes a smoker more coffee to get the same buzz as a non-smoker. It’s also why when you stop smoking and consume the same amount of caffeine, you might feel more jittery.

Cup of coffee on a table covered in a paisley tablecloth, sitting beside a cigarette and e-cigarette

4. Stimulants lead to fatigue

Caffeine makes many people feel jittery and unable to sleep. Long-term use can lead to nervousness, insomnia, dehydration, stomach irritation and fatigue. As for nicotine, once it’s taken into the body, blood sugar rises slightly, giving you a short-term energy boost. Both leave you on a low note, causing you to drink caffeine and smoke more.

The Takeaway

Consider adjusting your coffee drinking patterns when quitting smoking. Try drinking half the amount of coffee you used to – it’s probably all you need in order to have the same effect you’re used to. You may also want to redefine your coffee habit, so it doesn’t trigger a desire to smoke. Try pairing your coffee with a tasty treat, crossword or a nice walk outside instead of a smoke.