If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.

Tackle Your Triggers

Certain activities, people, feelings or situations can make you want to use tobacco products. These are called triggers. Triggers look different for everyone, whether you’re still using tobacco or in the middle of your quit journey. Maybe your habit is to reward yourself with a smoke after a shift or hit the bar to vape with your buddies. Whatever your triggers may be, there are ways to tackle them by being prepared.

What are tobacco triggers?

There are four kinds of triggers that may make you want to use tobacco: emotional, pattern, social and withdrawal. Identifying your triggers before you quit and throughout your quit journey can help you create a stronger quit plan to live tobacco free.

A trigger may result in a craving. But remember, a tobacco craving should pass in 5-10 minutes. You can push through that!

Emotional triggers

Emotional triggers occur when you have one or more strong feelings and reach for a tobacco product to get through the moment. They can include:

Stress or anxiety


Boredom or loneliness

How to tackle emotional triggers

  • Reach to your buddies and support group. Talk to a loved one or friend about how you feel. Remember, your buddies or fellow Service members may be going through a similar situation.
  • Take deep breaths to de-stress and try positive self-talk. Remind yourself that you’re better than tobacco and think about your reasons for quitting (like improving your PT test).

Pattern triggers

Pattern triggers are activities you associate with tobacco use. They can include:

Drinking alcohol

Being deployed

Eating a meal

Drinking coffee

After having sex

Before going to sleep

When waking up

How to tackle pattern triggers:

  • Change your routine [PDF 753KB]. Listen to your favorite song during your break instead of hanging out at the designated tobacco use area (DTUA) or crush a workout when you wake up instead of reaching for a tobacco product.
  • Replace your response. Text a buddy, eat a low-calorie snack or put a toothpick in your mouth to get through a craving.

Social triggers

Social triggers are occasions where others use tobacco products. They can include:

Hanging at a bar

Celebrating at a promotion party

Going to the DTUA where others are using tobacco

How to tackle social triggers:

  • Try to limit putting yourself in tough situations when you can. Ditch the hookah bar and steer clear of DTUAs and other places that remind you of tobacco products.
  • Suggest non-tobacco activities. Play sports or explore a new town so that you can stay in control of your surroundings.

Withdrawal triggers

Withdrawal triggers occur when you quit and your body is not getting the same levels of nicotine. They can include:

The smell of tobacco products

Craving the taste of a tobacco product

Needing to keep your hands and mouth busy instead of using tobacco

How to tackle withdrawal triggers:

  • Refocus your energy. Ask a buddy about a new hobby they enjoy that you can try as a healthy distraction.
  • Consider your quit options. Talk to your health care provider about tobacco cessation medicines like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to see which option is right for you.

Check out other tips and tricks on how to overcome everyday challenges while you prepare to quit and to help you kick tobacco for good.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.