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Identify and Conquer Your Smoking Triggers

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.

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"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.

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"I began exercising every time I felt like I needed a cigarette."

"I cut back gradually to just four per day, then began exercising every time I felt like I needed a cigarette. I also eliminated as much stress from my life as I could. It has been almost 13 years since my last cigarette." — K.K.

"I stopped drinking coffee the minute I got up."

I quit smoking three years ago in August. I used Zyban. I also sucked on cinnamon disks to help me get through the day. I do believe I went through 2 or 3 pounds a week for about 2 months... At work I stopped taking breaks outside for the first month, till I got an idea that if I walked I might be able to try and keep my weight down to a minimum. I went through my car and cleaned it out, went through the whole house and cleaned it. I stopped rolling down my car window the first thing. I stopped drinking coffee the minute I got up. I waited like 20 or 30 minutes. I took my shower and got dressed and then went down and made my coffee. I stayed out of the bars or eating places that allowed smoking. Most importantly, after gaining about 40 pounds, I went on a regiment of exercise. I started out just walking around the neighborhood, then as the days passed I went farther and farther, alternating between walking, fast walking, then jogging! Also took up weight lifting, and stairstepping! I joined walking/jogging events, i.e., breast cancer walk, heart walk, etc., and I had a blast!!! ... I lost the 40 pounds plus 10." — Desiree

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"...I changed my 'smoking hand.'"

"I didn't empty my ashtrays the final week, and dumped all my butts in a jar on "D-day", added a little water and took the lid for a good sniff when I wanted to smoke. I also took some work clothes, put them in dry-cleaning bags, and when I wanted to smoke, I unveiled the clothes so I could remember what I smelled like. I also employed other tactics I learned previously:

  • changing brands
  • changing from regular to menthol
  • changing to a brand with lower nicotine
  • changing 'smoking hand'
  • not smoking in the car
  • not smoking on the phone
  • not smoking after meals
  • (Some folks may want to only smoke outside, but I was already doing that.)
  • I avoided spots where people were smoking, such as bars or smoking sections of restaurants.
  • I bought a huge box of Tootsie Pops and when I normally smoked a cigarette, I had a Tootsie Pop."

Wendy N.

 

"The first thing I did was to start eliminating the usual routine times that I smoked."

"I quit smoking in 1985. The first thing I did was to start eliminating the usual routine times that I smoked, one at a time. Those were: after meals, when on the phone, etc. When I got down to three or four a day, then I quit." — Ginger E.

For more common questions and expert answers on smoking cessation, visit Sharecare.com.

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