Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Find Your Smoking Triggers

Avoid Situations That Spark a Craving to Smoke

Before your quit date, look over your list of triggers and put a checkmark beside those that you can reasonably avoid. If you have friends you’re used to smoking with, for example, decide in advance not to see them during the first few weeks of quitting. If drinking coffee is a strong trigger for you, switch to tea. If you associate smoking with watching TV, skip television for a couple of weeks and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood instead. If you’re used to lighting up a cigarette when you take the dog for a walk, alter your route into unfamiliar territory.

The more thoroughly you change your usual routine, the easier it will be to steer clear of triggers. Instead of breakfast and a cigarette first thing in the morning, take a short walk around the neighborhood. If you usually step outside to smoke a cigarette during a break at work, do a few simple exercises such as deep knee bends or stretches at your desk instead. Whenever possible, go to places where you can’t smoke, such as libraries, museums, or theaters.

Plan Ways to Resist Smoking Triggers You Can’t Avoid

Some situations or feelings can’t be avoided, of course. By acknowledging in advance that they’re likely to spark a craving, you can be better prepared to ride it out. Bring along something else to put in your mouth instead of a cigarette—a mint-flavored toothpick or some carrot sticks, for example. While you’re walking, take deep breaths, focusing on how good the fresh air feels in your lungs. Other useful strategies to ride out a craving include sipping ice-cold water through a straw, taking deep breaths, keeping your hands busy by squeezing a rubber ball or doing a crossword puzzle, or taking a brisk walk.

Remember, each time you resist a trigger and don’t light up, you’ve lessened its power over you. Most cravings only last a few minutes. If you can ride them out, you’ll be one step closer to a lifetime free of nicotine.

1|2
Reviewed on January 20, 2011

Today on WebMD

Smoking and Heart Disease
ARTICLE
Ways Smoking Affects Looks
Slideshow
 
no smoking sign
VIDEO
Woman smoking, close-up
Quiz
 

Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
Quit Smoking Aids
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
man with inhaler
Quiz
 

Erectile Dysfunction
SLIDESHOW
How To Quit Smoking
VIDEO
 
person pouring water into mouth
SLIDESHOW
How You Can Control Blood Sugar and Manage Insulin
SLIDESHOW