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How to Reduce Your Craving for Cigarettes

Updated on November 19, 2014

Let’s face it – quitting smoking is difficult. The good news is that thousands of people across the globe quit successfully every day. It takes about 3 days for nicotine to leave your body, so use these tips to reduce the urge to smoke and get through those first crucial 72 hours.

  • Get Some Miswak

Sometimes called the “Arabic toothbrush”, miswak (or sewak) is a twig from the Salvadora persica tree that cleans teeth and freshens breath. Quitting smoking is often difficult because we are so used to reaching for that cigarette and having it in our mouths. If you reach for a miswak stick instead, you quell the need for a cigarette by replacing it with something that is actually good for your mouth!

What is the Single Best Thing You Can Do to Quit Smoking?

  • Drink Milk

Drinking milk makes cigarettes taste bad, reducing your urge to reach for that next cigarette. If you don't like milk, you might try chocolate milk, but be careful because some people associate chocolate with cigarettes.

  • Get Physical

Jump rope, jog in place, or take a walk. It's hard to smoke when you're exercising or breathing hard. Do something to increase your activity to avoid grabbing that next cigarette.

  • Try Nicotine Replacement

While nicotine replacements do nothing to help get the nicotine out of your system, it is better to grab a piece of nicotine gum than to light up again. Try the gum or the patches if you are having an especially difficult time quitting.

  • Be Careful with What You Tell Yourself

Eliminate the words "I need" from your vocabulary, as in "I need a cigarette". Your body will respond to the things you tell yourself, so it's better to replace your internal dialogue with phrases that will help you reach your goal, such as "I don't need a cigarette". It really does help.

  • Suck on Candy

The more things you can do to stop the habit of having a cigarette in your mouth, the better. Hard candy or suckers make good replacements. It's hard to smoke when you have a tootsie pop stick hanging out of your mouth.

  • Don't Drink Alcohol

Even the most committed quitters can lose their ambition when they drink alcohol. Alcohol often lowers our inhibitions, making the excuses we tell ourselves to light up seem more logical than they really are. Also, alcohol and cigarettes often go hand in hand. Take some time off until you feel more comfortable in your new non-smoking lifestyle.

  • Work Around Your Personal Triggers

Everyone has their own strong triggers for lighting up. For me, lighting up with my morning cup of coffee was a big one. For a few days, I decided to drink hot tea in the morning, instead, which helped me get through the first couple days.

  • Do Some Deep Breathing Exercises

Deeply breathing in some clean, fresh air greatly reduces the need to light your next cigarette. Breathe in so that your abdomen expands when you inhale, hold it for a few seconds, then slowly let it out. Doing this a few times when the urges get strong can help you get through the crisis.


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