What is a smoking trigger? A trigger is something that makes one want to smoke, and they are different for different people. A stressful situation could be a trigger for someone. Socialising with friends could be a trigger for someone else. A coffee break, after lunch, smelling cigarette smoke, these could all be triggers.

Types of Triggers

Almost all triggers can be categorized into:

  • Pattern
  • Social
  • Withdrawal
  • Emotional

Pattern Triggers

Pattern triggers are activities that an individual associates with smoking. Some of these activities can be drinking alcohol, driving, finishing a meal, drinking coffee, taking a break from work etc.

An effective way to beat a pattern trigger is to disassociate smoking with the trigger and find another activity to do. Doing this enough times will transfer the feeling to a different activity. Replacement activities might be chewing gum instead of reaching for a cigarette. Keeping one’s hands busy is a good idea, like squeezing a handball or doing needlework or woodwork. Exercise can distract from the urge to smoke. Another good idea is to change up one’s routine.

Social Triggers

This kind of trigger usually includes being around other smokers. Some examples are going to a party or a bar. Attending a concert. Seeing someone else smoke. Celebrating a big event.

Dealing with social triggers is harder. One needs to start avoiding places where people smoke. The individual could ask friends and family not to smoke in front of them, as a show of support.

Withdrawal Triggers

When a long term smoker quits smoking, withdrawal symptoms will manifest. Some withdrawal triggers are things like craving the taste of a cigarette, smelling cigarette smoke, restless hands or handling lighters and matches.

The best way to deal with such triggers is to find a distraction. Doing something that occupies one’s full attention will take one’s mind off the craving.  

Emotional Triggers

An individual gets the urge to smoke when they experience intense emotions. It reminds them of how they feel when they smoke to enhance a good mood, or escape a bad mood. An emotional trigger could be stress, anxiety, excitement, boredom, happiness, loneliness, depression or satisfaction.

There are other ways to deal with emotional triggers, rather than leaning on cigarettes. For example, an individual can try talking about their emotions to friends and family. Exercise is a great way to handle emotions too. Physical activity releases endorphins which lifts the mood. Deep breathing techniques can help calm the mind and reduce cravings. Listening to calming music can also relax an individual, lessening the trigger effect.

An understanding of triggers and identifying the ones that affect one the most will help the individual trying to quit smoking make a successful plan to manage cravings.

If you are struggling to kick a drug or substance use habit, call Hired Power. Let us help you create a solid foundation for lasting recovery. 1-800-910-9299

Most Recent Blog Posts

5 Ways To Forgive Yourself In Recovery

    Sometimes, in active addiction, we do things we aren’t proud of. We may have hurt the ones we love, do things we are ashamed of, and caused harm to ourselves. We may feel guilty, embarrassed, and angry. Although you may have gotten substance abuse treatment and are...

    Read More

    Recognizing A Problem With Alcohol

      It can be fun and relaxing to go out for drinks with your friends on Friday nights after a long work week or have a cocktail before bed. Many people drink alcohol and do so regularly, but how do you know when your drinking has become a problem? When many of us think...

      Read More

      Which 12-Step Program Is Right For Me?

        12-Step programs are a common part of addiction recovery. Many treatment programs utilize a 12-Step approach, and many of those recovering choose to attend meetings after they complete their treatment. Attending meetings can help individuals maintain their recovery...

        Read More


        21062 Brookhurst St. #201, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

        ©2021 All Rights Reserved. Design & Development by Goldman Marketing Group | Sitemap | Privacy Policy The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions. If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact us at