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Recognizing and Breaking Smoking Trigger Patterns

Recognizing and Breaking Smoking Trigger Patterns (Do This Instead!)

Many smokers have “pattern triggers.” A pattern trigger describes something that connects an everyday activity to smoking. For some people, their morning coffee is a pattern trigger: they grab a coffee and a cigarette and smoke while they drink. For other people, it’s a lunch break at work or the commute drive home. When you take time to identify your pattern triggers and be mindful of them, you’ve taken the first step to overcoming them. The next step is to figure out what to do in place of smoking, to retrain your mind and your body to associate the activity with something other than smoking.

Ready to start breaking some smoking triggers? Here are five of the most common pattern trigger activities, along with some tips and ideas about what you can do instead, so you can break the pattern, stop the trigger and achieve a victory over smoking!

Trigger Pattern: Talking on the phone while smoking
Do This Instead: Find a replacement to hold. Try a carrot stick, piece of celery or other healthy snack where you normally hold a cigarette. Another idea: chew gum.

Trigger Pattern: Driving while smoking
Do This Instead: Squeeze a stress ball or hand grippers to keep your hands busy and build hand strength.

Trigger Pattern: After eating
Do This Instead: Brush your teeth. This will give your mouth a fresh taste and discourage you from smoking.

Trigger Pattern: During a break at work
Do This Instead: Take a walk. If you normally smoke with coworkers during a break, separate yourself from the group or encourage them to join you in quitting smoking.

Trigger Pattern: Before bed
Do This Instead: Exercise. Studies show exercising 90 minutes before bed helps you have a more deep and restorative sleep.

As with any health activity, we encourage you to talk with your doctor or healthcare professional about the changes you’re making to your lifestyle. For support, resources and advice to quit smoking, email our team of tobacco education and cessation specialists. We’re here to help.

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