While quitting smoking is a personal decision that requires a lot of will power and focus, there are certain environmental factors that can inhibit or increase your chances of long-term success. Knowing how your environment affects your habit is a critical component that can help you put down cigarettes for good.
Our environment has a direct influence on our behaviors. A study at Dartmouth College found that children who had at least one parent who smoked were four times more likely to buy cigarettes as children who lived in a smoke free household.
There are environmental “triggers” that can lead people to take up the habit and eventually become addicted. Many people began smoking regularly by casually smoking when drinking alcohol or going to parties when they were younger. Eventually they were exposed enough to these environmental triggers that smoking crept its way into their everyday lives.
It’s clear how detrimental the wrong environment can be in your battle to quit smoking. But the flip side is also true: just as the wrong environment can cause you to stumble—the right environment can help you in your efforts to succeed.
When you first decide to stop smoking, it’s essential to identify what aspects of your environment can trigger cravings. Environmental triggers can be certain people, situations, locations, behaviors, and things. It’s important for you to identify and eliminate these triggers to the best of your ability. Most people are triggered by the same types of things. Below are the most common environmental factors that can trigger you to smoke.
Driving in the Car
Many people habitually light up when they drive. This is where you need to develop some new driving habits. Using a smoking cessation aid like nicotine gum can replace your habit of smoking in the car. Instead of lighting up, chew a piece of nicotine gum. Clean out your car and get the smoke smell out of it too. Remove ashtrays if you have them in your car.
Some say coffee and cigarettes go together like peanut butter and jelly. You don’t need to give up coffee, but you’ll have to make some changes. If you drank coffee out of your favorite cup while smoking, then get another cup. If you had coffee first thing in the morning before work, try waiting until you get to work to have your first cup. Aim to change things up.
After a Stressful Event
There are certain stressors that will make you want to smoke- an argument with your spouse, a hard day at the office, or that driver that cut you off in traffic. Instead of smoking after a stressful event, try going for a short walk or listening to some music. Developing new habits is the key to success.
It seems that work breaks were invented for (and maybe even by) people who smoke. You can keep taking your break, but seek out those who do not smoke and hang out with them. Go for a walk around the block, and avoid people who smoke on their break at all costs.
Your decision to quit smoking does not have to ruin your social life. You can still go to parties and other places where people may be smoking, but be prepared to have your guard up. Avoid going outside where people are hanging out smoking. Stay inside with the non-smokers.
Your defenses and will power may drop after having a drink or two. When you first decide to stop smoking you should also consider cutting way back on the alcohol as well if it serves as an environmental trigger.
After Eating a Meal
You may be one of those individuals that enjoy a smoke after a nice meal. Again, the key is identifying the environmental trigger and either removing it or changing your behavior. Since you can’t avoid eating, you’ll need to create a new habit. Some people have been successful by getting up from the table right away and engaging in a new activity like a walk, chewing a piece of nicotine gum or having dessert.