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The 3 A's are actions to take when faced with high-risk situations where you may feel pressured to smoke.



Avoiding is one of the best strategies. This includes avoiding places, situations or even certain people that make it hard to say no to a craving or offer for cigarettes. Places to avoid are public smoking areas, bars with outside patios, places with alcohol, work smoke-break areas, places you smoke a lot at home (your office for example), sporting events where you smoke, or co-workers with whom you smoke, etc.



Have alternatives to cigarettes handy at all times. Good alternatives give you something to hold, similar to a cigarette. They also keep your mouth busy. Good alternatives are chewing on straws, toothpicks, bubble gum, cinnamon sticks, popsicles, popsicle sticks, crunchy vegetables, mints, hard candies, swizzle sticks, licorice, a water bottle or juice.



This includes such things as: make new distractions, keep busy, work on hobbies, take long walks, exercise more, hike, ride a bike or call a friend when you have a craving. Go to places that forbid smoking, such as the mall, movies, store or restaurants.

You can also adjust your routines to lessen your cravings. The brain links your regular places and things to your smoking patterns - these certain places, events, situations or people can actually trigger the brain's craving for nicotine. For example, if you always make coffee and smoke in the morning, you will feel strong urges to smoke when you make coffee. Alter this routine. Wake up and take a brisk walk and then take a shower. Or, brush your teeth first thing in the morning. The more you can adjust your routine, the more you can keep cravings and urges at bay!


Strategy Worksheet

Create a worksheet with your strategies to help you plan ahead for high-risk situations. Here is an example worksheet:



Adjust Routine?


Work break with smoking co-workersYesYes, I will take a stretch break in a different area with non-smoking friends
  • Will keep straws & toothpicks in pocket at work
  • Will use mints and chewing gum
  • Will drink a lot of water

Will try to do less for first few weeks


  • Will use tea breaks
  • Will drink a lot of water
  • Will take stretch breaks
  • Will use positive self-talk
After eatingNoWill brush my teeth immediately after eating
  • Will use chewing gum or mints
  • Will have popsicles in fridge


This information has been approved by Amy Lukowski, PsyD (August 2015).