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In high-risk situations that make you want to smoke (called "triggers"), cravings are natural. You can control them when settings like these might trigger you —

  • Stress
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Excessive happiness
  • Temptation
  • Sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Celebration
  • Death
  • Around meals
  • Being with friends who smoke
  • Being in a place where you used to smoke
  • When you’re hungry
  • When you’re tired
  • Alcohol
  • Being around cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia

If you’ve identified something as a trigger, be sure to come up an approach for not letting the addiction get the best of you.


A natural part of the recovery process is cravings. Expect that they will happen, and you can overcome them logically.

  • Take three regular deep breaths. Hold the last breath in for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. This will help you relax and use muscles for inhaling.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks. Coffee often creates a craving for cigarettes.
  • Avoid alcohol. It can affect concentration. The urge for a cigarette may develop as a "pick-me-up."
  • Chew something to relieve tension in muscles normally used for exhaling.
  • Avoid a lot of sugar. Substitute snacks like celery, carrot sticks, or plain popcorn.
  • Stretch to keep blood flowing and avoid sleepiness.
  • Drink fluids (water or juice) and be patient. You WILL be able to quit for good.

Eating is not a substitute for smoking. Snack smart and limit snacking by eating regular meals. Learn new ways to cope.

Program 1-866-QUIT-YES into your phone. The second you need a cigarette most, call and the Quitline will help you get past the craving.

Distract Yourself

The 4 D’s are very helpful to get past the physical urge to smoke.

  1. Breathe deeply. This is an effective way of dealing with tension from cravings.
    • Hold your breath and count silently to eight.
    • Exhale slowly counting silently to eight.
    • Repeat this cycle five times.
  2. Drink water. Drink lots of water and juice. This helps ease the urge to smoke.
  3. Delay. When your craving is mild one, you can wait it out. After a few moments, the urge fades and disappears.
  4. Do something else. Take a walk, play a game, run an errand — anything to get your mind off wanting a cigarette.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself. The person who has not started the recovery process needs sympathy. You’re the one who is smart enough and tough enough to follow through and quit smoking.

Manage Stress

Smoking might make you think you are relieving stress, but the heart beats faster, breathing rate increases, and the body uses more oxygen. Callers to the Quitline have shared stress-reducing activities working for them:

Removing yourself from the stressful situation is the most effective way to relieve stress.

  1. Controlled deep breathing. This helps the mind relax.
  2. Meditation. This technique of stress relief can help you focus on a completely different place and refocus your mind.
  3. Prayer. The repetition in prayer helps many focus on something other than smoking.
  4. Reading. A book, magazine, or website shifts concentration to content other than tobacco.
  5. Journaling. Writing down the quitting process to vent about feelings and keep track of improving health is successful for many.

Illinois Tobacco Quitline

Illinois Tobacco Quitline

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