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Situational cravings

Situations to avoid once you have quit smoking.

So today is your first day as a non-smoker.  You haven't had a cigarette all morning, and you're feeling great about it.  When it becomes 3 p.m. you decide to have a cup of coffee as a pick-me-up.  That's when the craving hits you - you need to reach for a cigarette! Every smoker has certain times when they automatically reach for a cigarette.  This is what's known as a situational craving or a "trigger."

Triggers are different for each person.  For some people it may be coffee and alcohol.  For others it's driving in the car and after meals. Whatever your triggers may be, you need to identify them and find a way to move past them.

Common smoking triggers

  • Alcohol is not only a trigger for many smokers, it also affects your judgment and willpower.  It's probably a good idea to avoid alcohol for a few weeks.  Try club soda, tonic water or a diet pop.  Ask for a straw or coffee stirrer to play with.
  • Stress wreaks havoc on your body and mind. If you're dealing with a stressful situation, make an effort to relax your muscles every now and then.  Simply close your eyes, visualize something that calms you, breathe slowly and deeply for 10 breaths, and consciously relax every part of your body.  Think about taking up a stress-reducer like yoga or meditation. Regular exercise helps reduce stress as well.
  • Parties or social events are situations that are better to avoid for a few weeks.  If you can't avoid them, confide in a nonsmoker who will be there and ask him/her to help you avoid smoking.  Practice saying, "No thanks; I don't smoke," in case you are offered a cigarette.
  • Driving without a cigarette in your hand will feel unnatural for a while. Before you quit, clean out all ashtrays, get your car's interior cleaned and get an air freshener you like.  When driving, try new radio stations or get books on tape.  You may want to have toothpicks or carrot and celery sticks handy.
  • Coffee - Drink your coffee in a different place and use a different mug.  Even better, try a different beverage, like tea.

Web sites that will help you identify your specific smoking triggers:

Contact Tobacco Prevention