Doctor's Notes

How to Manage Smoking Cravings

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By Michelle Chen

There is no denying that tobacco urges are powerful. In fact, cravings are the hardest part of quitting smoking for many people. Try to remember that cravings come and go and only last a few minutes, regardless of whether or not you smoke. With each craving that you beat, you are one step closer to quitting for good. We know that can be easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you overcome the urge to smoke:

  • Use relaxation techniques. For many, smoking is a way to deal with stress. Try yoga, deep-breathing exercises, or a massage to help take the edge off.
  • Start a new task and tell yourself you can hold off for another 10 minutes. Repeat until the craving goes away.
  • Use medications. Talk to your provider about nicotine patches, gum, and other medications to help you quit. They can lessen the discomfort.
  • Keep your mouth and hands busy. Chew sugar-free gum, have a glass of cold water, or chew on a straw instead. Try squeezing a stress ball when you want to reach for a cigarette.
  • Call or text a friend who can provide support. You may also benefit from quitters’ blogs and programs like SmokefreeTXT. Remember—you don’t have to go through this process alone.
  • Take a walk or jog. If you don’t have time, go up and down the stairs a few times. A trip around the block can boost your energy and help you overcome the craving.
  • Add up your savings. Calculate all the money that you’ve saved from giving up smoking. Plan what you’re going to do with the extra cash.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our posts for reasons to quit and ways to make quitting easier, and learn more about secondhand smoke.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:

You can also get free patches and help from:

This article is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.

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Author: Charles B. Wang Community Health Center

The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center is a nonprofit and federally qualified health center, established in 1971. Our mission is to eliminate disparities in health, improve health status, and expand access to the medically underserved with a focus on Asian Americans. Our vision is to strive to be a Center for Excellence by being a leader in providing quality, culturally relevant, and affordable health care and education, and advocacy on behalf of the health and social needs of the medically underserved with a focus on Asian Americans. We believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to achieve their highest level of health. Learn more at www.cbwchc.org.

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