Dealing with the urge to smoke

What happens when you’ve finally quit and you continue to have the urge to smoke?


Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it’s certainly one of the best things you can do for your health! What happens, though, when you’ve finally quit and you continue to have the urge to smoke? There are some steps you can take to deal with these urges and not give in to them.

When you were a smoker, your body became addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. Urges to smoke are one way that your body is telling you it wants nicotine. These urges are often triggered by certain people, places, things or situations.

Step 1 in taking control of your urge to smoke is to recognize these triggers. Some common smoking triggers include feeling stressed, finishing a meal, taking a work break, seeing someone else smoke and feeling lonely. Think about the triggers that make you want to smoke.

Step 2 is to come up with ways to cope with these triggers. For example, if you feel stressed and think you need a cigarette, take a walk to calm down instead. If you used to have a cigarette after dinner, brush your teeth or take your dog for a walk instead. If you used to smoke when drinking, cut down on alcohol so it doesn’t trigger an urge to smoke. Go where smoking isn’t allowed, such as restaurants or bars that have nonsmoking sections. Stay around people who don’t smoke and find support with a friend you can talk to when you feel the urge to smoke.

Step 3 is to put this plan into action. Have a plan for each trigger and review them often so you’ll be ready when an urge comes on. It’s important to realize, too, that urges usually last only five to ten minutes. So if you can distract yourself from the urge to smoke, it will pass. Call or text a friend, take a walk, keep your mouth busy (with sugar-free gum or mints) and take deep breaths. Before you know it, your urge to smoke will be gone and you’ll be ready the next time an urge arises.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

AD. American Heart Association Support Network. Everyone's diagnosis story is different and sharing yours can help others. Join the Support Network and share your experience.


AD: American Heart Association logo. Symptoms. Always feeling tired isn't normal. Learn the signs of Heart Valve Disease.


AD. American Heart Association logo. Know your blood pressure numbers. And what they mean. Gain Control. button: learn more.


AD. Heart Insight. Get the app for free.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Special Topic Supplements

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Heart News

Heart health news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.


Articles, poems and art submitted by heart disease survivors and their loved ones.

Life's Simple 7

Improving your health is as easy as minding seven simple health factors and behaviors. Tips and information to help you improve your health and enhance your quality of life.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These heart patients, their loved ones and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.