It is not known whether cigarette smoking plays a role as a risk factor in alcoholic pancreatitis. The aim of this study was to compare drinking and smoking habits in three groups of male subjects with an alcohol intake in excess of 40 g/day: (i) 67 patients with acute alcoholic pancreatitis, without other known potential causative agents; (ii) 396 patients with chronic alcoholic pancreatitis; and (iii) 265 control subjects randomly selected from the Verona polling lists and submitted to a complete medical checkup. The variables considered were age at onset of disease, years of drinking and smoking, daily alcohol intake in grams, number of cigarettes smoked daily, and body mass index (BMI). Cases differed from controls in daily grams of alcohol, number of cigarettes smoked and BMI (Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.00001 for each comparison). Multivariate logistic regression analysis, comparing acute and chronic cases, respectively, versus controls, revealed an increased relative risk of pancreatitis in the two comparisons, associated in both cases with a higher alcohol intake (p < 0.00001) and cigarette smoking (p < 0.00001). No significant interaction between alcohol and smoking was noted, indicating that the two risks are independent. In conclusion, in males a higher number of cigarettes smoked daily seems to be a distinct risk factor in acute and chronic alcoholic pancreatitis.