Why Do You Smoke?

The more you know about why you smoke, the easier it will be to quit. You may reach for a cigarette during a stressful commute. Or you may want to smoke when you first wake up in the morning. Learn what your smoking triggers are, and how to handle them. Many people smoke because it’s a way they’ve learned to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, negative moods, and the stress of daily life. There are ways to deal with emotions without smoking. Counseling can teach you ways to cope, and getting support from loved ones can help, too.

Common triggers

  • Frustration

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)

  • Anger

  • Stress

  • Hunger

  • Boredom or loneliness

  • Drinking or socializing

  • Watching others smoke

  • Smelling cigarette smoke

  • Certain daily routines such as driving, or after meals

Track your smoking habits

To learn about your smoking habits, track them for a week. Attach a small notebook or piece of paper to your cigarette pack. With each cigarette you smoke, write down the time, where you are, who you’re with, and how you feel.

How to cope with your triggers

  • Change the habits that lead you to smoke. For instance, if you often smoke at a morning break, go for a walk instead.

  • Distract yourself from smoking. Keep your hands busy by playing with a paper clip or by doodling. Keep your mouth busy by chewing on gum or a carrot stick.

  • Limit contact with people who are smoking. When you eat out, sit in the nonsmoking section.

  • Manage your cravings. When you first quit, have some fast-acting nicotine replacement products on hand. These include lozenges or gum. Use these during very stressful triggers to reduce cravings.

  • Stay positive. If you slip, start again. Stopping smoking often requires repeated tries. But smokers do quit for good. Quitting is hard, but you can do it.

To learn more

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