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Know your triggers to beat cravings

If you get to know your smoking triggers, it can help you to tackle cigarette cravings

The biggest challenge most people face in the first few weeks of quitting is regular, persistent cigarette cravings.

There might be specific situations or feelings which give you the urge to smoke – like being stuck in traffic or when you’re feeling stressed. Some cravings are due to your body wanting nicotine; but others are due the connection your brain has made between your daily triggers and routines and smoking.

Everyone has their own triggers to smoke. But if you are aware of yours, you can come up with some strategies. 

Here are some tips to get on top of your triggers and to stay prepared for when they strike.

Learn your triggers

Think about when you smoke – it might help to keep a diary at first. Write about what you were doing or feeling at that time when you felt like a smoke. This will help you work out what your triggers are. Here are some examples:

  • Morning coffee
  • Smoking buddies
  • After meals
  • With alcohol

Do any of these stick out for you?

Fight cravings with distractions

The next step is to work out how you will avoid those pesky cravings when they come to visit. Cravings normally only last a few minutes. They're a bit like a wave: they build and then fade. Think of a craving as a five-minute window to fill. 

Try these:

  • Have a piece of gum or fruit 
  • Play with your pet 
  • Call a mate
  • Play a game on your phone
  • Grab a stress ball
  • Do a jigsaw or crossword puzzle
  • Watch TV
  • Read a magazine or a book
  • Distract me!

Try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

A faster-acting NRT type can take the edge off a craving. Having some NRT on hand can give you something to do when you get a craving, and give you confidence when facing a situation where you normally would have smoked. Using NRT with Quitline is one of the most effective ways of quitting smoking. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if NRT is suitable for you.

Call Quitline (13 7848)

No matter what stage of quitting you are at, Quitline (13 7848) is here to help. Our friendly Quitline counsellors can assist you to put together a personal quit plan. All for the cost of a local call or, even better, free when you request a Quitline callback

Last updated June 2022.

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