Facing My Smoking Triggers
Emotions are the most common smoking triggers.
How Identifying Your Smoking Triggers Can Help You Stop Smoking
Megan has identified some of the most common "smoking triggers,"
says Lirio Covey, PhD, director of the Smoking Cessation Clinic at Columbia
University, where a major component of counseling focuses on identifying
Covey identifies these common smoking triggers:
- Stress and emotional upheaval -- often negative, but sometimes positive
emotions can trigger the desire to smoke.
- Exposure to the cigarette or something related to it, like being in the
company of other smokers, is another common trigger.
- Conditional or environmental triggers, like the times you used to smoke and
behaviors you have been conditioned to associate with smoking. These are
strongest right after you stop smoking, and can weaken over time.
How Can You Find and Face Your Smoking Triggers?
Trina Ita, the counseling supervisor for the American Cancer Society's
Quitline, has some advice:
- If you find yourself wanting to smoke while riding in the car, make your
car an unfriendly place to smoke. Clean it out, empty and scrub the ashtrays
and the glove compartment, and get rid of your "what if" pack. Febreze
the upholstery. And keep things like gum or sugar-free candy in the glove
compartment to give you something to do with your mouth while you're
- If being around other smokers is a common trigger for you, talk to your
friends who smoke. Ask them for help in not smoking around you as much as
possible, to minimize the chance of relapse. If your friends are outside
smoking, stay inside; congratulate yourself on not having to stand out in the
cold, or not missing the big play at your favorite sports bar because you were
outside having a cigarette.
- Do you find yourself wanting a cigarette right after eating? Get busy
immediately after your meal. Get up and clear the table, do the dishes, and
pack up the leftovers.
As Megan discovered, often just getting through the first few minutes after
a trigger spurs the craving to smoke is all you need. "Just delay that
urge," says Ita. "Even if you wait just 15 minutes, you'll find that
you're not thinking about it anymore."