Why the donors are always advised not to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol for a particular amount of time before blood donation? What adverse effects can the receiver be subjected to if the blood of a donor affected by tobacco or alcohol is given?

1 Answer 1


Smoking and drinking both put the recipient of the blood donation at risk or possible risk.

Smoking causes nicotine to enter your bloodstream and usually breaks down into cotinine. Both of these are connected with increasing plasma Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) levels, which may be involved in the progression of both vascular disease and cancer. The researchers note:

"These findings may give a clue as to the mechanisms by which nicotine and cotinine from cigarette smoking increase vascular disease progression and tumor growth and metastasis."


Alcohol will immediately be absorbed through the lining of your stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream, meaning it will also be in the blood that you try to donate! {2} If your recipient happen to be a child, that alcohol can damage the developing brain and liver. {3}

  • 2
    Plaque in the arteries is a long term, not short term effect. Most US based blood banks don't have any restrictions on smoking before donating, but they do recommend against smoking after donating to prevent dizziness and possible fainting. Can you provide a reference that shows smokers blood puts the recipient at risk?
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 22:19
  • You're right that there's no definitive proof of risk. I've readjusted my answer to claim "possible risk". Thanks for pointing that out.
    – Dave Liu
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 23:08
  • 1
    Cigarette smoke contains absorbable compounds that increase platelet aggregation and promote clotting. This may also be a reason to avoid donating blood after recently smoking.
    – DrRandy
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 13:19
  • Blood is drawn from veins, not arteries, and smokers bleed just as well as non-smokers, so plaque making it difficult to draw blood is not an issue.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 21:46
  • 2
    I don't think it's accurate to make that extrapolation. Cigarettes have several negative effects on the vascular system, but I don't think any of them are significant enough to hinder blood donations. As JohnP said, the effects are long term, not short term.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 1:40

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