Appetite is regulated by a number of hypothalamic neuropeptides including neuropeptide Y (NPY), a powerful feeding stimulator that responds to feeding status, and drugs such as nicotine and cannabis. There is debate regarding the extent of the influence of obesity on hypothalamic NPY. We measured hypothalamic NPY in male Sprague–Dawley rats after short or long term exposure to cafeteria-style high fat diet (32% energy as fat) or laboratory chow (12% fat). Caloric intake and body weight were increased in the high fat diet group, and brown fat and white fat masses were significantly increased after 2 weeks. Hypothalamic NPY concentration was only significantly decreased after long term consumption of the high fat diet. Nicotine decreases food intake and body weight, with conflicting effects on hypothalamic NPY reported. Body weight, plasma hormones and brain NPY were investigated in male Balb/c mice exposed to cigarette smoke for 4 days, 4 and 12 weeks. Food intake was significantly decreased by smoke exposure (2.32 ± 0.03 g/24 h versus 2.71 ± 0.04 g/24 h in control mice (non-smoke exposed) at 12 weeks). Relative to control mice, smoke exposure led to greater weight loss, while pair-feeding the equivalent amount of chow caused an intermediate weight loss. Chronic smoke exposure, but not pair-feeding, was associated with decreased hypothalamic NPY concentration, suggesting an inhibitory effect of cigarette smoking on brain NPY levels. Thus, consumption of a high fat diet and smoke exposure reprogram hypothalamic NPY. Reduced NPY may contribute to the anorexic effect of smoke exposure.