How To Conquer Your Smoking Triggers and Finally Quit Smoking

There’s no getting around it, quitting smoking is a challenge. However, are you making it harder than it needs to be?

Quitting smoking cold turkey is a question of will power, and some don’t always make a complete break with cigarettes on the first attempt.

This is in part because your willpower will get tested every time you encounter smoking triggers or cues.

Did you used to smoke on your coffee break? The smell of coffee could then become a smoking trigger. Are you accustomed to having a cigarette when behind the wheel? Driving could be one of your smoking triggers.

Identifying your smoking triggers and planning in advance how to cope with them is a crucial part of making sure your willpower isn’t tested more than necessary when you’re trying to quit cold turkey.

What are my smoking triggers?

Smoking triggers can differ from person to person, meaning you’ll have to do some detective work. If you haven’t started your quit attempt yet, the best way to prepare is to record the times of day when you have a cigarette.

This approach should give you some idea of what triggers and cues you will encounter once you have given up.

If you aren’t able to do this, the next best approach is to use the list of common triggers below as a starting point.

How many of these sound familiar?[1]

  • Talking on the phone
  • Drinking coffee
  • Driving
  • Watching TV
  • Finishing a meal
  • Having a break at work
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Feeling stressed or down
  • Seeing someone else smoke

How to handle smoking triggers

Where you can, try avoiding triggers, especially in the early part of your quit journey

For those triggers you can’t avoid, make a plan on how you are realistically going to manage them.

As cravings generally last between five to ten minutes,[2] it might really just be a case of distracting yourself while you wait it out.

Exercise is one option to look at not only for managing cravings, but also by changing up your routine. If you are exercising, it means that you are less likely to be in situations where you are exposed to your smoking triggers.[3] If you’re feeling the urge to smoke, try doing something active like a fast walk or going to the gym instead.

Exercise doesn’t have to be the only way to change up your routine. For example if watching TV is one of your triggers, but cutting TV out completely isn’t an option, try sitting in a different chair when you tune in.[4]

Other ways to deal with smoking triggers

It doesn’t all have to be about willpower. If you’re really struggling with your cravings, nicotine replacement therapy is another solution.

Nicotine replacement therapy comes in various forms including gum, patches, lozenges and sprays, and gives your body the nicotine that it is craving, but without the toxic chemicals. You can read more about how nicotine replacement therapy can help you conquer your cravings here.

Ultimately, it’s about finding the strategy that works best for you. It won’t necessarily be easy, and you might need more than one attempt, but whether it is with sprays, patches, or good old fashioned will-power, you will get there in the end.