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Ever noticed how certain things trigger your smoking? There may be specific situations which make you crave a cigarette more than usual. For most people triggers are times when they are used to smoking, like going out for a drink, getting stuck in traffic or stress.

Triggers vary from person to person, and so does choosing how to deal with them. Once you have worked out what your triggers are, you can use strategies, like changing your routine, to avoid and overcome them.

Thinking ahead and being prepared, is usually helpful. Fighting cravings and dealing with your triggers does get easier with practice.

Dealing with triggers is different for everyone; you might have to try a few strategies to find what works for you.

Check out our list of common triggers below – to see if any sound familiar.



You know the drill, it’s almost time for that mid-morning or afternoon coffee and smoke break. Perhaps you are going with a smoking buddy too?

Before you head straight for the caffeine, you could try:

  • Doing an activity – like playing a game on your phone
  • Grabbing a healthy snack

Mixing up your routine will help your body break the habit.



Learning to relieve your stress without lighting up a smoke can seem overwhelming to new quitters. Dealing with your stress in other ways is the best way to break the habit.

Why not try:

  • Going for a quick walk
  • Deep breathing and relaxation
  • Calling a friend
  • Playing a game on your phone

 You can learn more about stress and smoking here.


Work breaks

Are you stuck in a pattern at work, taking regular smoko’s as part of your standard work day routine? Work is a common trigger for smokers because they are in the habit of having a smoking break at the same time, or with the same people.

By breaking the habit you can start breaking down the craving. Instead of scheduling in another smoko, why not:

  • Organise an exercise session with your colleagues
  • Listen to some music instead
  • Grab a healthy snack or drink of water



Out on the weekend for a drink, you’re probably thinking about having a smoke too. Drinking is a common trigger for many smokers. Although the cravings may be strong when you are first quit – they do get easier!

Breaking your habit of having a smoke when having a drink can be done by making small changes.

  • Try ordering a different drink, and holding it in your smoking hand
  • If it’s the hand to mouth action you're missing, drinking through a straw can be effective


Parties and socialising

Parties and other social settings are often triggers for smokers especially when they are around friends who also smoke.

To beat your cravings at parties:

  • Try hanging around your non-smoker friends to help avoid the feeling of missing out or peer pressure. Over time, turning down a cigarette being offered to you will get easier too
  • Practice saying “No thank you, I’m not a smoker.”


Smoking buddies

You know who they are, the usual suspects always at the ready to join you for a smoko and a quick catch up. When you first quit, it's easy to feel pressured into smoking by your mates who smoke.

To avoid feeling tempted to have a smoke with your friends,

  • Get yourself a glass of water or make yourself a hot drink
  • Go for a quick walk around the block

If you still want to join your friends while they are smoking, you should be prepared for cravings when you smell the cigarette smoke – this can be a big trigger for many. You could try chewing gum or sipping some water as a distraction.



Does sitting in traffic trigger you to light up?

  • Start by removing everything in your car that reminds you of smoking - such as ash trays and lighters
  • Getting a new air freshener is a good way to avoid the cigarette smell trigger
  • Having some mints or gum handy can be good to break the habit of smoking while driving


After meals

Having a smoke after lunch or dinner is a routine for some people.

The best way to break down your after-meals cravings is do something different straight after a meal like:

  • Reading a newspaper or magazine
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Going for a quick walk

Finding what works for you might take a few tries – so don’t give up!


After sex

Are you in the habit of having a smoke after sex?

If after sex is your trigger to smoke, try talking to your partner to help you get over your craving.

Instead of lighting up after doing the deed, break the routine by having an extra cuddle.



Boredom can be a common trigger for some people. Try keeping yourself busy by:

  • Reading a book or newspaper
  • Doing a crossword puzzle or playing a game on your phone or tablet
  • Doing some woodwork or knitting
  • Gardening

Remember, you can always call the Quitline 13 7848 to discuss ways to beat your triggers.