World No Tobacco Day 2014: How to identify and beat your smoking triggers

Have you been conquered by the urge to light up even after committing to quit smoking?


May 31 is World No Tobacco Day.

Have you been conquered by the urge to light up even after committing to quit smoking? Does the sight of your favourite star enjoying a puff on screen tempt you? In day to day life, we come across several situations where the urge to light up becomes irresistible. Factors, which trigger this urge include after a heavy meal, during times of boredom ,stress, along with a cup of coffee, talking over the phone, or even when stuck in a traffic jam behind the wheels.

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Believe it or not, even certain places and food items can spark an urge to smoke. Peer pressure also needs to be blamed for this vulnerability.

The first smoking experience by a few 7th grade students were revealed during a study conducted by Jennifer O' Laughlin and her colleagues. The most common factors mentioned were cigarette advertisements, smoking by parents, siblings and friends who encourage them to smoke.

'Put it out before it puts you out' and get rid of this psychological craving.Firstly, identify your personal smoking triggers and keep a note of these factors and the most frequently occurring triggers.

At the start of the day

You might notice your nicotine levels drained completely after you wake up in the morning because there has been a long gap of 8 hours. But if you really want to conquer the urge to light up, brush your teeth immediately with minty toothpaste for that instant freshness.Its stimulating properties help suppress the urge to light up.

Your stressful state of mind

As stress and negative moods are the most common triggering factors, practice yoga, breathing exercises and meditation. Sip cold water through a straw, which releases dopamine and brings pleasurable effects and wards off negative mood.

Food triggers

A nicotine craving can also occur if you would have had previous experiences of smoking while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. Limit the intake of caffeine; this is the first and foremost strategy. Chocolates can be your best friend! Substitute your caffeinated drink for a non-caffeinated one like hot chocolate. If you are not an ardent chocolate lover, replace your caffeinated drink with milk or any fresh juice.

You can also avoid the urge to smoke by opting for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Avoid eating too much during breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snack often instead. When you don't feel too full in your tummy, you wouldn't reach for that cigarette to aid digestion!

Lifestyle triggers

Your social circle will go a long way in helping you overcome your dependence on your smokes. Disclose your quitting plans to your social circle. Stick on to a non-drinking, non-smoking friend at a pub or a party. At social functions, avoid or limit alcohol intake. Try changing your drink. If you find it difficult, you may choose to have every 2nd drink as a non-alcoholic.

Here are some more ways to wean you off your cigarette pack:

Zone out: Next time you feel the urge to smoke, immediately rush to a 'no smoking zone' or a very distracting location. You can also create 'no tobacco zones' at your own home where cigarettes are completely uninvited and spend time in that part of the home when you crave for a smoke.

Distract yourself: Watch a movie; cultivate a hobby to get rid of boredom and not think about smoking. Keep your mind and hands busy.

Give yourself incentives and encouragement: Reward yourself, whenever you triumph over a craving the occasional sweet treat can be a good feeling too! Calculate your monetary savings-it may be enough to pay for a summer vacation or the most hi-fi gadget that you were wanting for a long time now.

Overcoming the urge

Consider the following medical aids and alternative therapies to overcome the habit:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy- nicotine patches, gums, nasal sprays, inhalers and lozenges, which contain low dosage of nicotine are the different options available. Overcoming the physical addiction is the main intention behind the therapy.

Smoking and nicotine therapy will never go hand in hand, so quit smoking in order to avoid the toxic effects of indulging in both simultaneously.

  • Zyban or bupropion is a pill, which has the ability to increase the effects of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly dopamine. It in turn brings the same pleasurable effects as that of nicotine. Consult a doctor before you start this prescription pill.
  • Hypnosis, behavioural therapy and motivational therapy can also create wonders in detaching the person from any kind of nicotine addiction.
  • E-cigarettes contain no toxic smoke and can be a great way to quit smoking. They give you a similar feel to smoking, and over time, will help you get over this habit completely.

Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of the following combined: HIV,illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, motor vehicle injuries, fire arm related incidents.It is also responsible for diminished overall health, such as self-reported poor health, increased absenteeism from work and increased health care utilisation and cost.

We taught ourselves to smoke, so we are very well capable of creating a comfortable life without smoking.

About the author:Ashley is an active campaigner against smoking and enjoys reading and blogging about health and fitness. You can learn more at her blog:

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