Do you know when, where and why you smoke? You probably smoke when you perform certain routines (e.g. getting out of bed), at certain times (e.g. after a meal), with certain people (e.g. when you’re with friends who smoke), with certain events (e.g. a stressful deadline), or when you feel a certain way (e.g. bored). When you know the specific triggers for your smoking you can create a plan to deal with these triggers. You might avoid them, change them, or choose different ways to respond to them.
The most accurate way to identify triggers is to keep a diary of your smoking behaviour. For the next several days, monitor every cigarette you have and the circumstances surrounding that cigarette. Pay attention to each and every cigarette and make notes in a journal.
Some common triggers are:
- Drinking coffee or alcohol
- Being around other people who are smoking
- The time of day
- Talking on your cell phone
- Driving your car
- After a meal
- At a party
- Unwelcome feelings (boredom, stress, tiredness)
- Being inactive (e.g. watching television)
Some triggers you can’t avoid (you have to eat, you have to get out of bed in the morning) but you don’t have to smoke when these things occur. You just need to figure out what you can do differently in response to them.
Keep a smoking diary/journal
A smoking diary helps you become more aware of the events in you daily life that trigger your urge to smoke. The diary can also help you determine when your need for a cigarette is highest. With this information you can create a quit-smoking plan that helps you anticipate these events and times. The more you know about your smoking triggers, the more options you have to change how you respond to them.
- Keep track of your cigarettes on a piece of paper or in a small book (a sample is printed in this workbook). Keep your diary somewhere that is easy to access (e.g. wrapped around your cigarette pack). Don’t skip a single entry. If you get to the end of the day and you haven’t accounted for every cigarette you smoked, try to be more accurate the next day.
- Keep track of each and every cigarette you smoke.
- Keep your diary where you will remember to use it, and in whatever form is easy for you to use.
- Keep track of your craving for each cigarette using a scale of 1 (low need/craving) to 5 (high need/craving).
- Keep using your diary until patterns start to emerge. It may take a few days; it may take a week. Your goal is to identify some of your smoking triggers. With this information you will be able to plan different ways to respond to these triggers that don’t involve smoking.
Quit Smoking Resources
The following is a list of helplines and resources. New resources are continually available, and the contact information for some of these resources may change. For the most up-to-date information, do an internet search for “quit smoking programs.”
Provincial Smokers’ Helplines
- British Columbia (1.877.455.2233)
- Yukon (1.866.221.8393)
- Nunavut (1.866.877.3845)
- Northwest Territories (1.867.920.8826)
- Alberta (1.866.332-2322 and alberta.quitnet.com)
- Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia (1.877.513.5333)
- Prince Edward Island (1.888.818.6300)
- Quebec (1.866.527.7383)
- Newfoundland, Labrador (1.800.363.5864)
Resources For Youths
- Quit4Life (www.quit4life.ca) is a Health Canada program for 12 to 18 year olds.
- Smoke-FX (www.smoke-fx.com) is Ontario-based and has many useful resources to aid in quitting smoking as well as an advocacy tool kit.
- Smoking Zine (www.smokingzine.org) is a University of Toronto smoking cessation program for teens.
- Inventory of Canadian Tobacco Cessation Programs and Resources (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/pubs/tobac-tabac/ictcpr-rrpcrt/index-eng.php). A listing of smoking cessation programs that are available nation-wide or province-wide.
- Health Canada (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca). Health Canada has numerous resources to help smokers quit. Search the “It’s your health” section of the Health Canada site or use the A-Z index to find out about the latest programs and information they offer.
- Canadian Cancer Society (www.cancer.ca or 1.888.939.3333)
- Canadian Lung Association (www.lung.ca)
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
- National Clearinghouse on Tobacco and Health
- Non-smoker’s right association (www.nsra-adnf.ca)
- Physicians for a smoke-free Canada (www.smoke-free.ca)
- Conseil québécois sur le tabac et la santé (www.cqts.qc.ca)