Everyone who uses tobacco has triggers. Knowing your triggers helps you gain control over nicotine cravings. At first, you might want to avoid triggers altogether. After staying tobacco free for a while, you may find other ways to deal with these well-known triggers:

  • Feeling stressed
  • Feeling down
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Watching TV
  • Driving
  • Finishing a meal
  • Taking a work break
  • Going to a bar
  • Seeing someone else smoke
  • Cooling off after a fight
  • Feeling lonely
  • Having sex
  • Drinking coffee


You won’t be able to avoid all tobacco triggers, so it’s important to make a plan to handle cravings. Remember, cravings typically last 5 to 10 minutes. It might be uncomfortable, but try to wait it out. Make a list of things you can do to distract yourself, like:

  • Call or text someone. You don’t have to do this alone. Lean on the people you trust to distract you, or call 1-800-QUIT NOW or register online to talk to a Quit CoachTM about strategies to quit tobacco for FREE.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Challenge yourself to read a magazine, listen to music or play your favorite game for 15 minutes. Cravings only last a few minutes!
  • Take a walk or jog. Don’t have time? Go up and down the stairs a few times. Physical activity, even in short bursts, can help you boost energy levels, stay healthy and beat a craving.
  • Review your reasons for quitting. Just one puff will feed your craving and make it stronger. Starve the craving by reminding yourself why you want to be tobacco free.
  • Go to a smokefree zone. Most public places don’t allow smoking. Go to a movie, a store or any other tobacco-free public place where you’re forced not to smoke.
  • Calculate your savings. Cigarettes are expensive. Add up all the money you’re saving and decide what you’re going to buy with it.
  • Keep your mouth busy. Bum a stick of gum instead of a cigarette, or keep hard candy with you. Drinking water also works!
  • Do something else. When a craving hits, stop what you’re doing immediately and do something else. Simply changing your routine can help you shake off a craving.
  • Take deep breaths. Breathe through your craving by inhaling (through your nose) and exhaling (through your mouth). Repeat this 10 times or until you’re feeling more relaxed.
  • Cravings will come and go. Remember, trying something to beat the urge is always better than giving in. When a craving hits, do what works for you. Just don’t smoke, not even one puff!

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