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Had a smoke or vape? Stay focussed on your quitting goal

Quitting is a journey. Don't beat yourself up or give up if you have a smoke or vape while quitting. Keep reflecting, and work out some strategies to deal with triggers.

Friends on park bench having coffee

If you’ve had a cigarette or vape, or a few puffs after being smoke or vape-free for a few days weeks, months or more, it doesn’t mean you’re back to where you started.

It’s important to keep seeing yourself as someone who doesn't smoke or vape.

Use this as a chance to review and reflect on your quitting strategy. 

Ask yourself: 

  1. Where were you when you had a smoke or vape? 

  2. What were you feeling? 

  3. What will you do next time? 

Check out the scenarios below for ideas on how to learn from the experience. 

Learning from the experience

"I gave-in to strong cravings or felt restless and irritable."

Cravings can come crashing down on you, sometimes without warning. Remember they only last a matter of minutes. Read about some ways to beat the cravings.

If you're experiencing feelings of withdrawal from nicotine, talk to your doctor about ways you can manage these. Your doctor can talk to you about whether nicotine replacement therapy or quitting medications are appropriate for you.

"The whole thing got too scary and difficult."

The first week is often the hardest to get through. Plan for low and high moods and stressful situations. If you get through, you’ve gained a lot of skills. Keep at it. Knowing what to expect when you quit can help. Keeping your mind on your reason(s) to quit can really help, too. Was it for family, children, health, yourself?

"I started to smoke or vape without realising it."

Change your routine to minimise triggers and manage routines. Also, find a good replacement for the cigarette or vape e.g. chewing gum, stress ball, fidget spinner, drink bottle, moisturiser. 


"I was stressed out!"

Managing stress can be a challenge. Deep breathe, walk, meditate, drink water, get a massage, be kind to yourself and use your savings to do something you enjoy.

"I slipped up when I had a few drinks."

This is a common trigger that many people experience. Consider changing your drinking behaviour (even if only for a few weeks) and plan ahead.

"I felt unable to say NO in the situation I was in."

Do you need to talk to smoking or vaping friends and be clear about what you need? Choosing a phrase like "I don't smoke/vape anymore" can be quite powerful. 

Quitline can help

Our Quitline counsellors have spoken to thousands of people in the same situation. Give them a try. They're full of ideas about how to keep busy and get through a craving.

There are many ways to get in touch with Quitline 13 7848, including webchat, Messenger and more: 

Please note, this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.

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Last updated February 2024

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