Know your triggers

Understanding what makes you want to smoke or vape can help you when you're trying to quit. Identify the situations and emotions that trigger a desire to smoke or vape so you can choose the quit method that's best for you.

Smoking and vaping is more than an addiction

For many people, smoking or vaping isn’t just an addiction. It can be something you do for comfort or to deal with feelings. It can also be a habit that’s built into your daily routines.

Knowing when and why you smoke or vape will help you to quit.

Understand what makes you smoke or vape

You may have created links between smoking and vaping everyday activities such as when you have a coffee or a drink, when taking a break from work or study, or even just waking up in the morning. Your brain remembers these links, and it sends a signal to smoke or vape every time you do these things.

When you've quit, these situations create cravings – they're a memory of how things used to be.

After you quit, you might get a craving to smoke or vape when you're in these situations. Think about your own smoking and vaping habits. Could any of these habits trigger an urge to smoke or vape after you quit? Knowing what makes you want to smoke or vape can help you plan how to cope in trigger situations.


Habits that can trigger a craving include:

  • having a drink or a cup of coffee
  • finishing a meal
  • talking on the phone
  • being with friends
  • starting a new task
  • taking a break.


Your feelings are connected to nicotine cravings too. You might smoke or vape:

  • for comfort when you're sad or angry
  • to cover up uncomfortable feelings
  • when you're bored
  • when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Even once you've stopped, the links between smoking and vaping and everyday feelings are still there in your mind. It will take a while to break those links.

Social situations

There are lots of social situations where you'll be around other people who are smoking or vaping. For example:

  • going out to dinner at a restaurant, or going to a bar or pub
  • at parties and other social gatherings
  • having friends over.

It's not possible to completely avoid other people smoking or vaping so you'll need some strategies to help you stay smoke- and vape-free.


If you've been smoking or vaping for a long time, your body is used to regular doses of nicotine. When you stop, you'll experience cravings during withdrawal that can trigger the desire to smoke or vape. For example:

  • craving the taste of a cigarette or vape
  • smelling cigarette smoke or vapour
  • feeling jittery or anxious and wanting to smoke or vape to calm down.

Read more about how to manage withdrawal.

Keep a quit diary

Keeping a quit diary can also help you identify what makes you want to smoke or vape and how much you're smoking or vaping. Each time you smoke or vape, or feel a craving, note:

  • the date and time
  • what you're doing
  • what you're feeling
  • how strong the craving is.

Even after a couple of days, you'll have a good idea about your smoking and vaping triggers.

Next step

Knowing your triggers can help you choose the quit method that is likely to work best for you.

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