This paper follows up an unexpected finding from a community survey that identified drinking and smoking as the most important tuberculosis (TB) risk factor, far ahead of ones commonly associated with TB such as poverty, overcrowded living conditions, and HIV-positive status. It reports perceptions of drinking and smoking from a three-phased study of the stigma associated with TB, consisting of a qualitative pilot study using focus-group discussions (2006), a larger-scale community survey (2007), and follow-up group discussions (2009). The community attitude survey was conducted with a sample of 1,020 adults living in a low-income township in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The study found that the moral and the biomedical understanding of TB risk are intertwined. In the community survey, perceptions of drinking and smoking as TB risk were predicted by fear of contracting TB and being a self-reported born-again Christian. In the follow-up study, heavy drinking and smoking in shebeens (unlicensed township liquor outlets) was associated with a risky lifestyle that can spread both TB and HIV. The paper discusses the similarities and differences in the roles of church and shebeen in providing social support to township dwellers to cope with problems of daily life. It is tentatively concluded that the stereotypical shebeen ‘drinkers and smokers’, alternatively pitied and maligned by moral society, might serve as the scapegoat that deflects pollution from the ‘new’ TB linked to the AIDS epidemic.