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Substance Use: Pregnancy and Quitting Smoking

Tips for Cravings

​​​​​​​When you have a craving for a cigarette or food, remember that cravings usually last only a few minutes. Do something else to keep yourself busy during this time. You’ll find that the longer you go without using tobacco, the less often you have cravings and the weaker they become. Plan how you will work through a craving. There are many ideas on how you can avoid using tobacco products. Find what will work best for you.

Below are some tips to help you handle cravings:

  • chew on a drinking straw, toothpick, or ice instead of eating food to replace cigarettes
  • eat veggies or a piece of fruit, or chew sugar-free gum, if you crave something sweet
  • keep your hands busy so you don't use them to eat (e.g., knitting, beading, doing crossword puzzles, or doodling)
  • go for a walk, sweep the floor, or call or text a friend to talk—these are great ways to deal with stress

Try the “4 Ds” when you are having a craving:

  • drink lots of water
  • do deep breathing exercises
  • delay the urge to use tobacco (try to get through the next 5 minutes)
  • do something else to take your mind off the craving

What are some substitutes instead of using tobacco?

Here are some examples to try instead of smoking or chewing tobacco:

  • If tobacco gives you energy, get plenty of sleep when you quit.
  • If you enjoy holding a cigarette, use a replacement like an elastic band on your wrist that you can play with instead.
  • ​If it helps you relax, take a bath or a shower, listen to soothing music, or write in a journal.
  • If you like smoking with your friends, spend time with them in non-smoking places instead (you can also think about finding non-smoking friends to hang out with).
  • If you use tobacco when you feel stressed, try to keep your stress levels low.
  • If you are Indigenous, smudge with sweet grass, sage, or cedar.

Ideas to take my mind off the cravings:

Try writing down your ideas that would help take your mind off the cravings.

Keeping Track

Keeping track of your tobacco use is an important step in making a change. Learning why and when you use tobacco will help you understand your situation better and improve your chances of making a change. Use the sheet below or make your own. Review your tracking sheet and note the number of times you used tobacco when you didn’t really need to. Look for moods, people, or places that trigger you to want to smoke or chew tobacco. Work on trying different ways to deal with cravings and temptations.

Print off the Tracking Sheet to keep track of your cravings.

Current as of: September 5, 2019

Author: Tobacco Reduction Program, Alberta Health Services