12 ways to fight the urge.

The urge to smoke will pass within 3-5 minutes, whether or not you have a cigarette. Here’s what you can do during those very long minutes.

Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking! Deciding to quit is the first big step on your journey to a smoke-free life. Fighting the urge to pick up a cigarette when a craving strikes is the second big step. Cravings can be very powerful, so it’s important to have a strategy for how you’ll handle them. This go-to list of distractions can help you make it through the rough patches.

Start with the 4 Ds

When the urge to smoke hits, The American Cancer Society recommends trying the 4 Ds:

  • Delay for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed.

  • Deep breathe. Close your eyes, slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air.

  • Drink water slowly, sip by sip.

  • Do something else. Some activities trigger cravings. Get up and move around.

Try to distract yourself

Physical activity can redirect your focus and help take your mind off the craving. Reaching out to someone in your support network can give you the mental boost you need to get through a challenging moment. Try both to find out what works best for you.  

  • Get up and go for a walk or jog around the block

  • Cuddle with a pet or take your dog for a walk

  • Suck or chew on gum, a lollipop, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, carrots, celery or pickles

  • Text or call a friend or loved one

  • Call a stop-smoking helpline or go online for support

  • Meditate or engage in a relaxation exercise

  • Brush your teeth

  • Take a shower or bath

It’s important to remember that you can get through the cravings. Be kind to yourself and take it one minute, one craving, one day at a time. As time goes by, they will get better – and you will get healthier.