Dustin’s story: changing daily habits to beat the urge to smoke

There are techniques you can use to break the smoking habit. Join Dustin as he finds out why changing your daily habits can also help you to quit. 

Dustin’s at a crossroads. He wants to start a family, so he wants to quit smoking. But every morning, he enjoys a cigarette with his first cup of tea of the day. 

In a bid to break the association of morning tea and smoking, Dustin has switched his habits: instead of making his cuppa and immediately stepping outside to smoke, Dustin now enjoys his tea in the lounge in front of the TV.

“I've been trying really hard at cutting back and changing habits and routines,” he says.

Will watching the morning news with his morning cuppa beat the urge to have a cigarette? 

As he enjoys a quiet cuppa and ponders his options before an appointment with his GP, Dustin learns that he has accidentally employed a technique GPs encourage – Delay and distract.1

“The urge to smoke will come on. If you can distract yourself and just not act on that urge, it will pass away,” says GP and addiction expert Dr Hester Wilson.1

It can be hard work to change your smoking habits. After all, Dustin is trying to fight a chronic condition that causes many people to relapse – nicotine dependence.2

In fact, very few smokers can quit without feeling the urge to smoke, and the first week can be the hardest. Your cravings for nicotine may be strong!1

And as Dustin knows all too well, smoking is more than a physical addiction; it’s a habit that’s built in to his daily routine.3 

For Dustin, his first cup of tea triggers a craving for a cigarette. For you, it might be finishing a meal, taking a break at work, when you’re at a party, or even when you’re bored.3

But if you’re like Dustin, and have daily habits that are linked to smoking, you can try the delay and distract technique.

  • Delay acting on the urge to smoke — after a few minutes, the craving will feel less intense.1
  • Distract yourself — try a different activity to take your mind off smoking, such as listening to music, enjoying a nice walk, or calling a friend for a chat.1
  • Deep breathe — take the time to have three long, slow breaths.1
  • Drink water — make the most of it by sipping it slowly and savouring the taste.1

According to Dr Wilson, delay and distract is a technique that GPs encourage everybody to use.  Your GP will also have many other tips, resources and treatment options to help you to quit and stay quit.

Remember, you’re 4x more likely to quit with the help of a healthcare professional compared to quitting unaided, so don’t delay taking the first step in your quit-smoking journey – a visit to your GP!4 

Start a quit chat with your doctor today

© Pfizer 2019. Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. Sydney, Australia. PP-CHM-AUS-PP-CHM-AUS-0984, 09/2019

1. Australian Government Department of Health. Coping with quitting and staying smoke-free. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/smoking-and-tobacco/how-to-quit-smoking/coping-with-quitting-and-staying-smoke-free Accessed 9 September 2019.
2. Joseph AM et al. Arch Intern Med 2011; 171(21): 1894–1900.
3. Australian Government Department of Health. Know your triggers. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/smoking-and-tobacco/how-to-quit-smoking/know-your-triggers Accessed 9 September 2019.
4. West, R. (2012) Stop smoking services: increased chances of quitting. NCSCT Briefing #8. London; National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training.