In a post hoc analysis of prior nicotine patch studies, we analysed findings in 357 subjects (43 recovering alcoholics, 314 non-alcoholics) to determine if recovering alcoholic smokers were more nicotine dependent than non-alcoholics and whether the efficacy of nicotine patch therapy was comparable. The Self-Administered Alcoholism Screening Test was used to identify recovering alcoholics. Recovering alcoholics had significantly higher mean smoking rates (cigarettes per day), Fagerström scores and baseline serum nicotine and cotinine than non-alcoholics. Among a subset of 240 subjects with a comparable treatment protocol, smoking cessation rates at the end of nicotine patch therapy were similar in recovering alcoholics (46%) and non-alcoholics (47%) receiving active 22 mg patches but higher than the respective placebo groups (17% and 19%). The 1-year rate was significantly (p = 0.005) higher in the non-alcoholic group assigned to an active patch (31%) compared to placebo (14%). For recovering alcoholics, the rates were lower and not significantly different (active 0%, placebo 11%). Recovering alcoholic smokers are likely to be more nicotine dependent than non-alcoholic smokers but can achieve comparable short-term cessation rates with nicotine patch therapy. Use of an objective, validated measure of alcohol dependence is indicated in clinical trials when it is desirable to know whether the subjects are active or recovering alcoholics.