coworkers smoking
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Things You Did While You Smoked

Your morning cup of coffee, TV binge, or commute to work: Any situation you used to pair with a cigarette can prompt you to light up again after you quit. Stay away from these situations as much as you can until they don’t give you that urge anymore. When you can’t steer clear of them, know this: Most cravings last only a few minutes. Try to keep busy until it passes. It might help to chew sugarless gum or a toothpick.

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ashtray and lighter
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Lighters, Ashtrays, and Other Cigarette-Related Stuff

Even seeing smoke-related items can make you want to light up. After all, they go hand-in-hand with your old habit. That’s why you should toss your lighters and ashtrays along with your cigarettes. If you live with someone who smokes, ask them to keep those things out of your sight.

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man playin guitar
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Chances are, you once passed time by smoking. So when you don’t have anything to do, you may be tempted to light up. It’s important to stay busy. It helps to plan activities you like to do, so you have something to look forward to.


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woman walking dog
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You may have lit up to help calm your nerves during tense times. So when you’re stressed, your first reaction may be to reach for a cigarette. It’s key to find another stress reliever. Exercise -- something as simple as a short stroll -- can help your body release calming brain chemicals. Deep breathing and meditation can help, too.

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man doing laundry
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The Smell of Smoke

That familiar odor can remind you of when you used to smoke, which can bring on a craving. Avoid smoky places and even smoky-smelling things like clothes. If you can’t, do your best to distract yourself until you can get away from them.

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betty davis lighting cigarette
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Other Smokers

Seeing someone else smoke, even on TV or at a movie, can spark an urge. Try to spend less time with other smokers just after you’ve kicked the habit. It helps to tell them why you’re not around as much as you were.

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woman drinking fruit juice
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It can make you jittery, tense, and stressed. And, as you know, stress is a major smoking trigger. So go easy on caffeine or skip it altogether with water or a decaf drink. (If you’re used to a lot of caffeine, ease off slowly so you don’t get bad headaches as you adjust.) If you need something to do with your mouth, chew on sugarless gum, a straw, or even a coffee stirrer. 

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woman drinking water
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If you usually smoked while you drank, even one drink can trigger an urge to light up, especially right after you quit. Booze also weakens your willpower, which can raise your odds of a slip-up. You may need to pass on going to parties until you’re over the hump.

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nicotine gum
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Physical Cravings

When your body wants nicotine, it might feel really hard to say no. Remember, most cravings pass in just a few minutes. And physical withdrawal -- your body’s dependence on the nicotine in cigarettes -- only about lasts 1 to 2 weeks. Nicotine replacement aids, like gum, patches, or lozenges, could help. Talk to your doctor about your options, including medication.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 01/16/2019 Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 16, 2019


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Michael C. Fiore, MD, director, Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention; professor of medicine, University of Wisconsin Medical School. “Cravings,” “Know Your Smoking Triggers,” “Conquer Stress.”

Tang, Y. PNAS, June 2013.

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies: “Stress,” “A Guide to Remaining Smoke-Free,” “Social Support.”

Sykes, C. Health Promotion International, 2001.

National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists.

ICan Quit / Cancer Institute NSW of Australia: “Common Smoking Triggers: Alcohol,” “Common Smoking Triggers: Other Smokers.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Acupuncture Can Help You With Cravings.”

CDC: “Getting Support As You Quit.”

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 16, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


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