Cravings and Triggers

Learn how to handle your triggers and cravings

“I quit… till I have that first cup of coffee.” “I basically don’t smoke anymore, except when I’m out with friends.” “I’m fine except for wanting a smoke right after a meal.”

Does this sound like you? These are called smoking triggers and they come in different shapes and forms. For some, it’s from having a cup of coffee. For others, it could be going to a party, driving home from work, feeling stressed or anxious, or all of the above.

For those who are wondering, cravings are intense urges to smoke. Although these cravings usually only last a few minutes, they can make quitting tobacco quite challenging. That’s why it’s important to know your triggers and to come up with a plan to deal with them.

Here are a couple of tips to help you break the link between common triggers and tobacco.

Pattern Triggers

● Drinking coffee ● Drinking alcohol ● Driving ● Finishing a meal ● Taking a work break


Change up your routine. Like drinking your coffee at a different time or brushing your teeth right after you eat.

Find a replacement. Like sugar-free gum, mints, straws or toothpicks.

Social Triggers

● Going to a party or other social event ● Going to a bar ● Being with friends or family who smoke ● Seeing someone else smoke


● When you’re first trying to quit, avoid places where people smoke.

● Ask friends and family not to smoke around you.

● Tell your loved ones that you’re trying to quit and ask them to support you.

Emotional Triggers

● Stress ● Anxiety ● Boredom ● Sadness or Loneliness ● Happiness or Excitement


● Take slow, deep breaths. It’s also a great way to manage stress and anxiety.

● Get moving. Exercise releases endorphins. These are chemicals in the brain that make you feel good.

● Talk it out. Telling someone you trust about what you’re feeling can help.