Managing the Urge to Smoke

Tobacco use results from a variety of triggers, both physical and psychological. It is important for you to become conscious of all smoking triggers, no matter how subtle. For example: an alarm going off, a telephone ringing, drinking a cup of coffee, driving a car or after eating are all trigger mechanisms. Becoming aware of these is the first step to changing them. The on-demand nicotine replacement products can also help control these urges. Smokers that use nicotine replacement products often have a higher rate success for quitting.

Change Your Routine

By changing your usual order of doing things, you can break the association you now have with cigarettes.

  • Get up on the other side of bed.
  • Don’t go for a cigarette when you get up, instead have a cold glass of water or juice.
  • Brush your teeth immediately after getting up.
  • Drive a different route to work.
  • Listen to a different radio station.
  • Take breaks and lunch in a different place.
  • Go for a walk during lunch.
  • Avoid other smokers (if possible).

Urges can be especially strong after meals

  • Eat at a smoke-free restaurant.
  • Go to lunch with different people.
  • Leave the table as soon as you are finished eating.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Use a mouthwash.
  • Go for a walk.

Other helpful changes include:

  • Spend more time in an area of your home not associated with smoking.
  • Hold the telephone receiver in the opposite hand.
  • Don’t sit in your smoking chair.
  • Keep busy. It takes seven minutes to smoke a cigarette.  If you smoke a pack a day, that is two hours, 20 minutes of time you would have.
  • Visit with a non-smoking friend.
  • Read.
  • Go to a movie.
  • Make something (crafts).
  • Go to a sports event.
  • Exercise.

Keeping these techniques in mind, wait five minutes before lighting up a cigarette. You’ll discover that many minutes go by before you feel another urge to smoke. Once the urge passes, you may no longer want a cigarette.

Remember, the urge will go away whether you smoke or not.

Don’t wait for the urge to hit – you can prevent urges from happening by not becoming too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. These types of situations can trigger the urge to smoke.

“One will hurt” – never give in to the urge for one cigarette. Giving into one will make it easier to give into another. If you need to inform friends and family members of your decision to quit smoking and ask for their support.

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