Summer means sun, sea, sand – and socialising. But all those festive family gatherings, parties, barbecues and get-togethers can be a challenge when you’re trying to quit smoking. That’s because smoking isn’t just about nicotine addiction; it’s a habit that’s linked to your lifestyle and the things you do.1
Here are some examples of tricky situations and some of the strategies you can use to stay strong through summer. You can apply any of these techniques whatever you’re doing, so don’t give up – you can enjoy a sociable summer and stay smoke-free!
Scenario 1: Party
Strategy: Break the booze connection
For many people, drinking and smoking are firmly linked, but you can enjoy a party without lighting up.2
If alcohol is a trigger for you, you might want to simply avoid it. Opt for a mocktail, no-alcohol beer, or refreshing soda water with a twist of lemon or lime.
If you do want to enjoy an alcoholic drink or two, warn your companions that you might need their help to stay on track: ask them to stop you from having a smoke.
Scenario 2: A summer lunch with friends or family
Strategy: Delay and distract
Eating a meal is another common trigger for smoking, but it doesn’t have to be if you plan ahead and have a few tactics up your sleeve before you go.2
One technique is to keep your mouth busy to try to stop the psychological urge to smoke.2
Before lunch, try chewing on some crunchy nibbles, like carrots or celery. After the meal, substitute cigarettes with some sugarless gum or a hard lolly.
Another useful technique is Delay and distract where you delay the next cigarette by distracting yourself with something else.3
Feel like lighting up after lunch? Try playing with the kids for a while, get into a conversation with your companions, or even take a little walk round the block for 10 minutes.
The urge to smoke usually passes after only a few minutes, so that might be all it takes to keep you on the road to success.3
Scenario 3: An afternoon in the pub with your mates
Strategy: Suggest something different
Going to the pub is a common trigger, so one tactic is simply to avoid the situation.2,3
Would your mates be open to doing something different?
Try going to places you can’t smoke: how about an air-conditioned movie to get out of the heat, or try something active?
Or enjoy the great outdoors: swap the beer garden for the beach or a bush walk with your mates instead.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to avoid the pub forever. Cravings are usually short-lived and get further apart over time, so situations like being in the pub will also get easier as the weeks go by.2
Scenario 4: Family barbecue
Strategy: Ask for help
Family get-togethers can be fun, but they can also be stressful – and many people smoke as a way to handle stress.2
So if you’re likely to light up whenever the family gets together, ask your family members to help you resist your nicotine cravings.3
Give them specific examples of things you’ll find helpful, such as not smoking around you, and things that might sabotage your quit attempt, like asking you to buy cigarettes for them.2
Your doctor can also help by offering techniques to help you stay smoke-free and recommending treatments that have been proven to help people quit smoking successfully.4
Remember, you’re 4x more likely to succeed with the help of a healthcare professional than if you try to quit unaided, so don’t hesitate to get help if you need it.5
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-0986, 10/2019
1. Mayo Clinic. Nicotine dependence – symptoms and causes. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nicotine-dependence/symptoms-causes/syc-20351584 Accessed 11 October 2019.
2. NIH National Cancer Institute. How to handle withdrawal symptoms and triggers when you decide to quit smoking. Available at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/withdrawal-fact-sheet#q3 Accessed 11 October 2019.
3. Mayo Clinic. Quitting smoking: 10 ways to resist tobacco cravings. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/in-depth/nicotine-craving/art-20045454 Accessed 11 October 2019.
4. RACGP. Supporting smoking cessation: a guide for health professionals. Melbourne: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, 2011 (Updated July 2014). Available at https://www.racgp.org.au/download/documents/Guidelines/smoking-cessation.pdf Accessed 11 October 2019.
5. West, R. (2012) Stop smoking services: increased chances of quitting. NCSCT Briefing #8. London; National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training. Available at https://www.ncsct.co.uk/usr/pub/stop-smoking-services.pdf Accessed 11 October 2019.