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Recognising your triggers

Ever noticed how certain things trigger your smoking and/or vaping?

There may be specific situations which make you crave a cigarette or vape

For most people, triggers are activities they used to do while smoking and/or vaping. Like going out for a drink or having a coffee. Sometimes a feeling like stress is a trigger. 

For Damien McFaddden, his triggers were being around other people who smoked, stress and also having a smoke with his coffee.

“Being with friends was a major trigger. I was the treasurer of the local football club, where I would have a smoke with all my mates and was there five days a week."

Triggers vary from person to person, and so does choosing how to deal with them. Once you have worked out what your triggers are, you can use strategies, like changing your routine or doing something to distract yourself, to avoid and overcome them.

This could be as simple as getting a glass of water, doing some exercise or playing a game on your phone when you get a craving.

Doing some prep, and thinking about how to break down his triggers, helped Damien lessen the cravings:

“It wasn’t easy and there were some hiccups.”

“I set myself goals and made sure to reward myself. With the money I saved from quitting I would go to see a movie or buy a DVD. Rewarding myself kept me going – as well as reminding myself of my reasons for quitting – my wife.”

Thinking ahead and being prepared is the key to staying quit for good. Fighting cravings and dealing with your triggers does get easier with practice.

“Four years later I’m the happiest man alive! My sense of taste and smell are back, my teeth are better and I feel free.”

What are your triggers?

Think about when you smoke and/or vape – 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 or vape. This will help you work out your triggers. Here are some examples of common triggers:

  • Having your morning coffee

  • Catching up with a friend who you used to smoke or vape with

  • After a meal

  • When you’re drinking alcohol

  • Feeling angry

  • When you’re stuck in traffic

  • When you feel stressed at school or work

  • When you feel bored

  • When you finish a task or a job.

Do any of these sound like you? If you’re having trouble working out what triggers your smoking or vaping, give the Quitline a call on 13 7848. You can also request a Quitline callback.

Charlie's story - how knowing his triggers helped him to quit

Watch Charlie talk about how he stopped smoking and how identifying and planning around his triggers helped me to stay quit. 

Want more stories? Head to Confidence to Quit.

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Adapted with permission from Make Smoking History. Make Smoking History is supported by the Department of Health WA, Healthway and Cancer Council Western Australia.

Last updated February 2024

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