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Knowing which situations make you want to smoke can help you plan for trigger situations once you’ve quit.

Most smokers have been smoking for a long time. Smoking habits are often tied to certain activities, places or people, such as having a cigarette with your morning coffee, during a break at work, or after a meal. Being in these same situations after you’ve quit can trigger an urge to smoke.

Change the routine to break the habit

As an example, let’s suppose your routine is to have a cigarette with your morning coffee or tea. You could:

  • Shift the location
    • move inside, but make sure that this is a comfortable place. Ideally, make sure you have another activity to distract you: listen to the radio or read the newspaper.
  • Switch to something different
    • a different beverage (e.g. coffee to tea) and/or a different brand or mug.
  • Change the sequence of your morning e.g have a shower first-thing.
  • Choose new routines.

Everyone has different habits and routines. You can apply this idea of routine change to the other triggers you identify in your day. What can you change about after-meal times or about your break at work? The important thing is to plan ahead, and try a few things out before you quit.

Some typical habit-based triggers and some tips for changing the routine include:




First thing in the morning

Have a shower first thing

With coffee (or tea)

Change to a different drink, brand of coffee or mug or change the place where you drink it

At morning tea

Read a magazine or book, sit in a different place or with a different people

At the computer at home

Shift your desk around or redecorate it

After lunch/dinner

Go for a walk

At afternoon tea

Try a herbal tea, read the paper

Straight after work

Do some exercise or meditation

Just before your start dinner

Have dinner earlier or later

With alcohol

Change to a different drink, hold drink in smoking hand

As you plan the next task/chore

Breathe deeply or try a quick relaxation exercise

As a reward e.g. completing a chore

Listen to music; have a piece of fruit

When you're with another smoker

Chew gum; bring a water bottle

At night in front of the TV

Change the furniture around; hold a stress ball; do some stretches

Just before bed

Have a warm drink or herbal tea; read a book