How to Manage Cravings

You won’t be able to avoid all of your triggers. And learning how to deal with triggers takes practice. So, when a craving is triggered, it’s important to have a plan to beat that urge to smoke.

Cravings are uncomfortable, but they don’t last forever.  Having a list of strategies can help you get through it.  Here are a few to try.

Get Support

  • Call or text someone. You don’t have to do this alone. Learn how to lean on people you trust.
  • Sign up for SmokefreeTXT to get daily messages of tips, strategies, and support.
    Mobile Number

    or text QUIT to 47848.

  • Download a smartphone app. Our free apps help you track cravings and understand your smoking patterns.
  • Visit Smokefree on social media. Grow your support network and stay connected.
  • Talk to an expert at a quitline. Call the National Cancer Institute Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. or find your state’s quitline by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Chat with a counselor. Get real-time help from the National Cancer Institute’s LiveHelp online chat.

Think About Your Reasons for Quitting

  • Review your reasons. Remind yourself why you want to quit. This can be a powerful motivator to keep you smokefree.
  • Calculate your savings. Cigarettes are expensive! Add up the money you'll save, and decide what to do with it. This is a great way to stay motivated and kill time while you let a craving pass.

Stay Busy

  • Keep your mouth busy. Chew a stick of gum instead of picking up a cigarette. Keep hard candy with you. Drink more water.
  • Do something else. When a craving hits, stop what you're doing immediately and switch to doing something different. Simply changing your routine might help you shake off a craving.
  • Go for a walk or jog. Or go up and down the stairs a few times. Physical activity, even in short bursts, can help boost your energy and beat a craving.
  • Take slow, deep breaths. Breathe through your craving. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this 10 times or until you're feeling more relaxed.

Go to a Smokefree Zone

  • Visit a public place. Most public places don't allow smoking. Go to a movie, a store, or another place where you can’t smoke.
  • Practice what you already do. What have you done before when you found yourself in a smokefree place? Tap into that same approach when your next craving comes along.

Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Even if you use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), you might have a craving that’s difficult to deal with. Think about trying a short-acting NRT, such as a lozenge or gum, plus long-acting NRT, such as the patch, to get past the craving.

Do a Good Deed

Try distracting yourself for a few minutes by being helpful to a friend, family member, or co-worker. This takes the focus off yourself and how you are feeling and instead allows you to think of another person’s needs. It can be a helpful way to cope with a craving until it passes. Plus, doing good deeds can have positive effects on your health, like reducing stress. Managing stress can be a key part of quitting smoking.

Don’t Give Up

Do whatever it takes to beat the urge to smoke. Keep trying different things until you find what works for you. Just don't smoke. Not even one puff!

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