Triggers, the circumstances or behaviors that prompt the urge to smoke, are powerful motivators to smoke. For many former smokers, identifying and thwarting those triggers were keys to their success. Here several of them describe the methods they used to overcome their personal triggers.

"...the single thing that made it easier was to change my routine as well."

"I found that the single thing that made it easier was to change my routine as well. My worst smoking times were in the morning with my coffee, after eating and while watching TV. I started taking a walk in the morning with my coffee rather than sitting. After eating, I got up from the table immediately and "got busy," whether cleaning, gardening, or walking ... anything to keep busy helped me immensely. At night while watching TV (which I cut down on thanks to my new non-smoking policy) I kept my hands busy with crochet, crafts, whittling ... anything to keep my idle hands from reaching for that first smoke." — Cindy W.

"I'm a psychologist. I just applied some behavioral techniques to my own behavior..."

"I am a psychologist. I just applied some behavioral techniques to my own behavior. One of those techniques lies in the avoidance of all those stimuli that directly or indirectly trigger smoking. A real problem is that after many years of smoking, almost everything is a 'good reason for a cigarette' — happiness, sadness, work, relaxing, listening to music, waiting for a bus, talking to someone, leaving a plane, arriving at a place, etc., etc."

To avoid triggering stimuli I first wrote down a list of events that I commonly associated with smoking — as extensive a list as possible. After three days of making such a list, I began to give a score to every item (ranging from 1 to 10). After that I distributed all items into two categories: real events (lunch, TV watching, music listening, etc.) and psychological events (anger, happiness, fantasy, etc.)... Then I began to avoid all the situations scored 10. Of course some of my lifestyle changed a little in that time. I began to go outdoors, to go to museums, to meet new nonsmoking people. I even changed my current menu. Every time I felt the need for a cigarette I thought to myself, 'remember your lungs. Let's take a chocolate and think about your future,' and I began to visualize a future without smoke and ugly odors." — Fernando C.

"I attribute my success to quitting the smoking 'habit' before I actually quit smoking."

"I attribute my success to quitting the smoking 'habit' before I actually quit smoking. For one month I stopped smoking at ALL of my trigger points: no cigarette first thing in the morning, no cigarette with coffee, no cigarette while talking on the phone or driving, and especially no smoking after meals. When I did, I made sure to sit in a chair in a room by myself — no socializing of any kind. Quitting the 'habit' of smoking was hard, but it accomplished my goal. After one month, I quit smoking and I've been smoke-free ever since." — Donna M.

"...coffee seemed to make me want a cigarette more."

"I quit drinking coffee at the same time because coffee seemed to make me want a cigarette more since they seemed to go together. I put a mint in my mouth before I got on the phone because that was also a time that I always wanted a cigarette. I did not change my eating habits, but I did try to stay busy and not give myself time to think about cigarettes." — Doyla J.