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Smoking: Top habit tips to stay quit

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

hands snapping a cigarette

Smoking is the single most ageing thing you can do - but we know that quitting can be tough.

Whilst nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been proven to help to stop the physiological cravings, it's also important to change your lifestyle and get into cigarette free daily habits and rituals. This guide provides some practical tips on how to do this.

1. The first cigarette of the morning

For a lot of people this is the hardest one to give up.

Habit strategies that can help:

  • Brush your teeth as soon as you get up and chew gum to keep your mouth fresh. Teach yourself to enjoy the freshness and not want to break it.

  • Try to leave the house quicker than usual so you’re not tempted and avoid places that you usually associate with morning cigarettes.

  • If you used to have a special morning ritual such as a coffee with a cigarette listening to the radio, deliberately change your routine e.g. choose tea not coffee, and read a newspaper instead.

2. The cigarette at the end of a meal

A lot of people feel that a meal isn't complete until they've had a cigarette.

Habit strategies that can help:

  • Replace that after dinner cigarette with something else - try a piece of fruit, a small square of chocolate, a stick of gum or a speciality coffee.

  • Try not to linger at the table and and try to do something straightaway to take your mind off any cravings. Try washing up, making a phone call or going for a walk.

3) The cigarette with a drink

This can be tough especially if your social life is centred around other smokers. Drinking alcohol is also a relaxant so it’s easy to let your guard down unless you are extra careful.

Habit strategies that can help:

  • Let your friends know you are giving up at the beginning of the evening and that you need their help to keep cigarette free.

  • If possible, get a fellow social smoker to give up with you, or if necessary, choose to hang out with non smokers whilst giving up.

  • Try to drink in places (bars, restaurants, friends’ homes) where you can’t smoke.

  • Choose non-alcoholic drinks whilst you are giving up, or atleast drink plenty of water whilst having a drink or eat a healthy snack, slowly, whilst drinking to help resist the urge to smoke.

4) The cigarette with friends & family

This situation needs a lot of willpower if your friends and family do not wish to give up too. Try to remember why you want to give up and that the cravings you feel are psychological not physical.

Habit strategies that can help:

  • Tell friends and family that you’re quitting and ask for their help.

  • If you think you’ll be tempted in the first few days and weeks, try going out where you can’t smoke or leaving a little earlier if you feel your resolve weakening.

  • When you do feel a craving, remember, it will only last for between 3-5 minutes – and it will get much easier over time

5) The "ritual" cigarette

Often we smoke simply because it is what we do in a particular place or activity

Habit strategies that can help:

  • If you’re used to smoking in a specific place, like your favourite chair when watching TV, break the habit by making changes, eg. try moving your chair, sitting elsewhere, moving the telly, or reading a book instead - whatever works for you to break your routine.

6) The cigarette to relieve boredom

Craving a cigarette when you are bored can be a real challenge.

Habit strategies that can help:

  • Stamp out boredom as soon as you feel it creeping in. Keep your mind and/or body busy by reading, listening to music, calling a friend, going for a walk or starting a new pastime.

7) The cigarette to keep your hands busy

Stopping smoking can make you feel fidgety as you search for something else to do with your hands.

Habit strategies that can help:

  • Occupy your hands with alternatives to cigarettes, try squeezing a stress ball or worry beads, or playing with paper clips or pencils.

  • Try a nicotine replacement inhaler that feels like a cigarette in your hands.

Finally, remember don't worry if you have a bad day. They will pass, your cravings will get better and over time you will establish new habits and routines that will mean you miss smoking less and feel good about being a non smoker

Quitting to get yourself younger

Take our free Life Age assessment to find out how your smoking habits, along with other lifestyle factors, could be ageing you or keeping you young and what you can do about it.

Finally, PLEASE SHARE this article with any friends and family who you think would find this useful. We are on a mission to help as many people as we can feel happier, more fulfilled and years younger - so would really appreciate your help to get our message out there.

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