Avoiding the Most Common Smoking “Triggers”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 1:09pm
NYS Smokers’ Quitline

A piece of quit-smoking advice I offered in the “Top Tips To Quit Smoking” post at the end of last year was to identify the triggers, or those people, places, things or situations that may entice you to smoke. Now that you’ve identified your personal triggers, what steps can you take to mitigate their influence? Here are some ways to help control some of the most common smoking triggers.

Alcohol
Drinking alcohol often triggers the urge to smoke, especially during parties and situations when you are around other smokers. Try staying inside with the nonsmokers when the smokers go out to smoke.  Also pace your alcohol consumption if you find the more you drink, the harder it is to resist lighting up. By having a nonalcoholic beverage after each alcoholic one, you will drink less and not have as many cigarette urges. 

Stress
Dealing with stress can be a trigger to smoke. There are many different ways you can alleviate stress without lighting up. Try exercising, even a quick 15-minute walk to clear your mind. Learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation may also help dealing with stress. Find a stress-reliever that works for you.

Driving
Many smokers smoke while driving. There are a couple of ways to help alleviate this trigger. You might want to have some sugar-free hard candy in the car, or carry a toothpick in the hand that you would have otherwise held the cigarette. Try playing some music while you are driving. Listening to something you enjoy and that engages your mind will help take your thoughts away from cigarettes.

Coffee
Drinking coffee often triggers the urge to smoke. Because these two go hand-in-hand for many smokers, it may seem very difficult to do one without the other. You may not have to give up your love for coffee just yet. One thing that may help is making sure you are not sitting in the same seat or the same room where you used to sit when you were smoking, or try having your coffee on the go instead of sitting and drinking it. Also try holding the cup in the hand that used to hold the cigarette.

Boredom
During the quitting process it is very important to keep busy and distract yourself during the first couple of days. Keep a “to-do list” at hand and start crossing things off the list rather than looking for a cigarette.