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Smoking Triggers

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Many common activities or events can trigger the urge to smoke. Knowing how to deal with them can help you deal with these triggers:

  • Finishing a meal. Get up from the table immediately and start a pleasurable activity. Try a walk or a new hobby.
  • Drinking coffee. Change the way you have coffee: the place, the coffee mug, everything that you did when you were smoking. Wait until you are at work to have your morning coffee.
  • Talking on the telephone. Use a phone in a different room when you are at home. At the office, there may be little you can do to change location. Have small objects nearby to handle while you are on the phone.
  • Between tasks. Instead of smoking a cigarette before moving on to your next project, try taking a short walk or reading a section of the newspaper or a chapter of a novel you're enjoying.
  • After an argument, disappointment, or negative event. If you are still feeling angry or upset, let off the steam by walking briskly around the building.
  • In the car. Since smoking has been banned in so many workplaces, cars are becoming a popular place to smoke. Remove the ashtray from your car, or fill it with potpourri or tiny strips of paper on which you've written the reasons you don't want to smoke anymore. Instead of smoking while you drive, play your favorite music on the stereo and sing along.
  • Seeing a pack of cigarettes. Sometimes just seeing a pack of cigarettes, or seeing someone else smoking, is enough to make you want to smoke. Plan ahead so that if you get the urge for a cigarette, you can reach in your pocket and pull out a stick of sugarless gum or a mint.

Activities at work and social events may trigger the urge to smoke. Here are some suggestions for avoiding these triggers:

Recommended Related to Smoking Cessation

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In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our November-December 2011 issue, we asked James Beckerman, MD, WebMD's heart health expert, for tips on quitting smoking. Q: I'm finally ready to quit smoking. Do you have any tips for making it easier? A: We all know that being tobacco-free is essential to a healthy life. In fact, the most recent report from the Surgeon General details how any exposure to tobacco smoke...

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  • Other people who smoke. Avoid the smoking areas at your workplace. If there is an entryway where people who smoke gather during breaks or before work, find another entryway, or time your arrival to avoid the smokers.
  • Work breaks. Avoid places where people who smoke go during the break. Seek out the company of people who don't smoke, and spend your break with them.
  • Parties.Quitting smoking may impact your social life. You don't have to skip parties altogether, but if you do go, don't accompany your friends when they go outside for a cigarette. If people are smoking indoors, or if it's an outdoor party, try to sit or stand as far away as possible from people who are smoking. Step out for a breath of fresh air if you need to—but don't smoke!
  • Alcohol. After you have had a drink, your resolve not to smoke may weaken. You may choose to give up or cut down on drinking alcohol when you first quit smoking. Varying the kind of alcohol and the place where you drink may help break the trigger, but it will not help with the weakened willpower.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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