Skip to Content

Committed to Safety: As we resume services, we are taking all necessary precautions to keep you safe while we care for you. Please note that visitor restrictions remain in place. Get more information on COVID-19.

Coping With Cravings When You're Quitting Smoking

Getting started

The cravings for nicotine can be intense for the first few days when you stop smoking, but they will get better with time. Here are some tips on how to cope.

  • Use nicotine gum, lozenges, or an inhaler.
  • Distract yourself.

    Stop what you are doing, and do something else:

    • Suck on a piece of hard candy.
    • Listen to music.
    • Chew on a toothpick or a piece of gum.
    • Call a friend.
    • Do a puzzle or some other activity that uses your hands.
    • Take on a household task.
    • Drink a glass of water.
  • Try to stay away from others who smoke.

    This is important when you first quit. Seeing others smoke often makes cravings worse or triggers you to want a cigarette.

  • Get active.

    Go for a walk, a bike ride, or a swim.

  • Relax!

    Try deep-breathing exercises or yoga.

  • Occupy your hands.

    Try knitting, reading, or working a puzzle.

  • Take a hot bath or shower.
  • Give yourself time to let the urge pass.

    Tell yourself you will wait 20 minutes and see if the urge is still there.

  • Call a friend to get support.
  • Think about your smoking and quit-smoking environment.
    • Remind yourself how hard it was to quit in the first place and all the effort you have put in so far. Do you want to throw that away?
    • Think about the benefits of not smoking, such as health, pride, and cleanliness.
    • Think about the negative effects of smoking, such as harm to your family, yellow teeth, and shortness of breath.
    • Imagine the immediate harmful effects of smoking. Picture the smoke going into your lungs and leaving the ash and tar in your lungs. Picture the harmful chemicals entering your bloodstream.
    • Tell yourself that you really do not want to smoke.
    • Tell yourself that you only need to keep from smoking one day at a time.
    • Imagine yourself celebrating your first full year without smoking.

These are just a few ideas you can try to see what might work for you. Maybe they will help you think of other things you can do to help when you have cravings.

Credits

Current as of: March 3, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine

Wellness Matters

Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.

Subscribe Now

Health Library