• SecondsCount Smoke-Free Success Plan, Step 2: Know Why You Smoke and Learn How You Will Manage Your Triggers


    Have you ever thought about why you smoke? Maybe it’s just a habit, but most likely there are specific triggers, such as moods, feelings, places, people, or situations that make you want to smoke. Whatever your reasons, identifying them will help you anticipate circumstances before you light your next cigarette—so you can choose not to smoke and try doing something else instead.

    Use the chart below to identify your triggers or reasons for smoking. Then pick strategies that you think will help you overcome different types of cravings. If you give yourself something else to focus on, you’ll be less likely to want to smoke.

    The list below is your life preserver in that tough moment when you feel like you must have a cigarette. So, it’s very important to keep this list with you at all times. When a craving strikes, pick something from the list and try it. If that doesn’t work, try something else. The important thing is to wait it out. It will pass. It will get easier. Be creative, think of your own strategies that will help you the most and add them to the list.

    After you’ve tried a strategy, record its effectiveness so you’ll know if you need to find something more effective next time. Use the other columns in the chart to keep track of the strategies that worked best in particular situations. Doing so will help you understand why you smoke, and what works best to stop you from smoking.

    Download SecondsCount Smoking Triggers Checklist (PDF)

       Trigger    Suggested Strategies   What Triggered the Craving?

     How Effective?

     On Scale of 1 to 10

    1 = least effective
    10 = most effective

      It’s fun.  
      •  Play catch with your kid.
      •  Go for a bike ride.
      •  Play a game.
      •  Catch a movie.


      It helps me

      •  Take a hot bath.
      •  Get a massage.
      •  Meditate. Breathe deeply. Inhale
         and exhale slowly for three minutes.
      •  Catch a movie.


      I like socializing
      with other

      •  Join a smoking cessation group.
      •  Have lunch with a supportive, nonsmoker friend.

      It’s a reward.

      •  Give yourself a present.
      •  Take yourself to the movies.
      •  Treat yourself to a spa treatment.


      It gives me
      something to do
      with my hands.

      •   Carry a worry stone or squeezable stress ball.
      •   Try knitting or crochet.
      •   Carry a notepad and pen to doodle.
      •   Get a book of mazes or other puzzles.
      •   Get yourself a manicure.


      It relieves my

      •   Try a crossword puzzle.
      •   Read a book.
      •   Do something physically active.