Dealing with Fits, Cravings and Urges

Tobacco users aren’t just addicted to smoking or chewing; they’re also habitually addicted to the act of using. Over time, smoking or chewing becomes a part of one’s daily routines or coping mechanisms. Certain activities, routine or feelings “trigger” them to smoke or chew. Triggers can be a habitual or daily activity such as a morning cup of coffee or a particular emotion or feeling, such as stress or unhappiness. Even a certain time of the day can be a trigger. Triggers are a huge barrier to quitting tobacco. In order to quit successfully, tobacco users need to first determine what “triggers” them to smoke or dip. With practice, tobacco users can overcome triggers. Eventually, it does become easier to separate triggers and tobacco, and finally quit for good. Here’s how you can identify and then beat your triggers.

STEP 1: Figure out what your triggers are by keeping a list of when you have the urge to smoke.

STEP 2: Make a list of the places where you would normally smoke.

STEP 3: Then, come up with alternate ways you can approach an activity or emotion. Below are some examples.

Common triggers and solutions to overcome them:


When you’re first trying to quit smoking, wait until you finish your coffee to have a cigarette. Over the next few days, gradually increase the amount of time between finishing your coffee and having a cigarette. Eventually, with enough time between the coffee and the cigarette, you discover you'll can drink coffee without having a cigarette.
Do something else while drinking coffee, such as reading the paper or making a grocery list.
Change the time or location where you have coffee.

Drinking Alcohol

When you’re first trying to quit smoking, don’t light up while you drink. Wait to smoke until after you have finished your drink. Begin gradually increasing the amount of time between finishing your drink and smoking.
Choose a smoke-free bar or restaurant for happy hour.
Try a different drink or switch to non-alcoholic for a short while.


When you’re first trying to quit smoking, don’t smoke directly after a meals, wait a few minutes and then gradually increase the amount of time between the meal and cigarette.
Keep your mind and hands busy after a meal: Help with the dishes, walk the dog, play cards, check e-mail, etc.
Brush your teeth or chew gum directly after meals.


When you’re first trying to quit smoking, don’t light up the moment the key is in the ignition—wait a few minutes. Over time, increase the amount of time between starting the car and smoking.
Put your cigarettes in your purse or briefcase and then keep those in the backseat or trunk, making it difficult to reach them.
Make a playlist for your drive and encourage yourself not to smoke while that playlist is on. Eventually, the ride will be over before you have the chance to light up a cigarette.

Stress and Routines

Over time, your body has learned that creating stress leads to having a smoke or a chew. Remember that your body is having a craving for nicotine and is producing its own stress; having a cigarette or chew is only relieving the stress your body is artificially creating.
During stressful moments, give yourself five minutes to take deep breaths and think of something calm, something other than smoking. By not smoking at the very first sign of stress, you'll begin to break the connection between stress and smoking.
Go for a walk instead of a smoke.

Friends that Smoke

Alert your friends–smokers and non-smokers–of your attempt at quitting smoking and ask for their support. As a result, you may help your friends decide to quit too.
Arrange to meet up with friends at smoke-free places such as a friend’s home or restaurant.
Make your a home smoke-free zone.


Call or text a friend or loved one.
Tackle chores like laundry, dusting, vacuuming. When you're done, you will have a clean home and will have avoided a craving.
Pick up a hobby that keeps your hands busy like crossword puzzles, knitting or chess.