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Smoking Triggers

Topic Overview

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. Rinse your mouth with mouthwash or brush your teeth. Or 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. Hold the phone with your "smoking" hand. Walk as you talk, or stand instead of sitting. At the work place, 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. 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. Change your driving patterns: take a new route to work, try a different radio station, change the radio volume, or drive with the windows open or closed.
  • 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:

  • 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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Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerChristine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health

Current as ofNovember 29, 2017


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