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Real Strategies from Ex-Smokers

Having trouble quitting tobacco?

Try these strategies to curb the craving during common high-risk situations where you could slip or relapse back to smoking.


Waking up – get right into the shower, brush teeth, go for a walk or exercise, get busy, change your morning routine.


Morning coffee – buy coffee on the way to work, skip coffee, wait until work to have coffee, switch to iced coffee.


When hungry – don’t let self get too hungry, eat healthy meals, carry snacks with you, eat fruit, drink a lot of water or fat-free milk before you eat.


After meals – don’t overeat, don’t linger at the table, clean up immediately after eating, go for a brisk walk, make tea, have a popsicle, don’t go into a typical smoke area after eating, use straws or toothpicks.


In car – listen to a book on tape/CD, try new music, take a different route to work, avoid going into a gas station/store where cigarettes are easily seen, keep windows rolled up, have car cleaned to get rid of cigarette smell.


Breaks at work – avoid walking by smokers’ break area, avoid leaving the building, bring something else to do during break like a book, talk or walk with non-smoking co-worker.


Stressed at work – ask for help, take a break, try deep breathing, call someone for support, avoid going outside, call a Helpline.


End of workday – find other ways to reward self at the end of a long day (iced drink or magazine), drive a different way home, stay busy, do something enjoyable after work, exercise after work.


While on telephone – talk in a room you don’t usually smoke in, have something to keep hands busy while on phone, doodle on paper, stretch, use a stress ball.


With partner who is smoking – ask partner not to smoke in front of you or in the home, don’t sit next to them when they’re smoking, ask them to hide cigarettes when not using them, ask them not to give you one even if you ask.


While working on home tasks – do fewer tasks in the beginning, use oral alternatives such as gum, mints, straws, or lozenges, ask for help, take lemonade or popsicle breaks.


Fighting with partner – try to avoid heated discussions for the first few days, if it gets too tense leave the house, exercise, find a fun activity, call friends for support, call a Helpline, go to mall or movies where you cannot smoke.


Waking up during night – do a calm activity such as reading or watching TV in a room you don’t usually smoke in.


While doing work at home – work in a different area of the house that you usually don’t smoke in, use gum, mints or other alternatives while doing work, try to avoid bringing extra work home.


At the computer – if cravings get to be too much then get off the computer, do other activities, exercise, or try using low-calorie alternatives like veggie snacks, use gum or mints.


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