New York State Smokers Quitline logo
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Identifying, tracking, and managing them

What are triggers?

Triggers are what make you want to smoke. Many things can trigger a craving to smoke, like daily activities or emotions.

Try to keep track of what makes you want to smoke, what you're doing, and how you're feeling when a craving strikes. Once you know that, you know your triggers!

Why should I track my triggers?

It's important to stay busy and distracted, especially during the first days and weeks of quitting. It is just as critical to begin changing your daily habits you associate with smoking, so you can separate and replace them with new smoke-free behaviors that become your permanent habits.

Common triggers and how to manage them

Drinking coffee

Change up your routine – drink your coffee in a different space, at a different time, stand when you drink coffee instead of sitting, or change to tea or another drink for a while.


Try resting toothpicks or cinnamon sticks in your mouth. Chew carrot sticks. Sing along to music in the car.

Getting up in the morning

Break routine – try hopping in the shower when you would usually smoke, stretch, start a new physical activity, drink water, use your stop–smoking medications.

Going on break

Change the time, try not to take breaks with someone who smokes, reach out to a friend.


Change the place you usually use for relaxing, have a healthy drink, listen to music, try deep breathing.

Finishing a meal

Get right up from the table, brush your teeth, step outside, or play a game.

Using your phone

Connect with a friend who supports your quit, play a game, listen to a podcast, recorded book, music, or try less screen time like reading or physical activity.


Try to take up your free time with non-smoking physical exercises, hobbies, and activities that will keep your mind, body, and hands busy! Like to play games, do puzzles, walk, or read? When you're feeling bored switch to your hobby. Remember, cravings last just 5 minutes. In that time, you can get a puzzle or game started!

Trouble with triggers and cravings?

Each moment away from your last cigarette is practice on your way to quitting! Remember your reasons to quit, talk with a Quit Coach to help develop a plan, manage cravings, and see if medications are right for you.
Last updated 12/8/2021 1:34 PM
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