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What to do when a cigarette craving hits

We understand cravings can be unpredictable, often occurring when you least expect it. But with most only lasting a few minutes, Quit Victoria has created hundreds of tips and tricks to help you manage them.

Here’s a few you can use to help you stay on track:

  • Chill out: Put some calming tunes on and (try to) relax. Get rid of any ashtrays and lighters if you haven’t already, and grab some candles or an air freshener to cover up the smell of smoke.
  • Find someone or something to distract you: Grab a book or magazine, cook a healthy meal or call a friend. Do something to occupy those crucial minutes and keep yourself busy.
  • Keep your hands busy: Flip a coin, squeeze a stress ball, grab a water bottle, pat your pooch or pick up a pen and start doodling.
  • Keep your mouth busy: Think gum or lozenges, sip some water or eat a healthy snack like nuts or fruit. If all these don’t work, try brushing your teeth. You will feel fresh and clean and hopefully the cravings will have passed once you’re done.
  • Get outside: If you’re feeling stressed, go for a brisk stroll around the block or do another form of exercise. Make it something you enjoy like yoga, kicking the footy or boxing. Grab a mate to help keep your mind off the smokes. 
  • Plan ahead: If you know you’ll be craving a cigarette at a certain time, place or in a situation, prepare and change up your routine. Talk to your health professional about trying a faster-acting type of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) like mouth spray, gum, lozenge or inhaler a few minutes before you think a craving may hit. Combination therapy – using patches with a fast-acting NRT product – is one of the most effective quitting methods.

Call the Quitline (13 7848): Our Quitline counsellors are trained to listen support you through this. You can request a Quitline callback if you prefer.

Started smoking again? Don’t fret! Relapse is a normal part of stopping smoking. In fact, research shows people try up to 30 times before quitting for good. Head to the Quit website for advice on how to get back on track.

Last updated November 2021.

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