Quit Victoria - Main Menu Quitline Logo Request a call back

Habits and routines

Most smokers have been smoking for a long time. Smoking habits are often tied to certain activities, places, or people; such as having a cigarette with your morning coffee, during a break at work, or after a meal. Being in these same situations after you’ve quit can trigger an urge to smoke.

Change the routine to break the habit

As an example, let’s suppose your routine is to have a cigarette with your morning coffee or tea. You could:

  • Shift the location
    • move inside, but make sure that this is a comfortable place. Ideally, make sure you have another activity to distract you: listen to the radio or read the newspaper.
  • Switch to something different
    • a different beverage (e.g. coffee to tea) and/or a different brand or mug.
  • Change the sequence of your morning (have a shower first-thing).
  • Choose new routines that you’ll come to enjoy.

Everyone has different habits and routines. You can apply this idea of routine change to the other triggers you identify in your day. What can you change about after-meal times or about your break at work? The important thing is to plan ahead, and try a few things out before you quit.

Some typical habit-based triggers and some tips for changing the routine include:



First thing in the morning Have a shower first thing
With coffee (or tea) Change to a different drink, brand of coffee or mug; or change the place where you drink it
At morning tea Read a magazine or book; sit in a different place or with different people
At the computer at home Shift your desk around or redecorate it
After lunch/dinner Go for a walk
At afternoon tea Try a herbal tea; read the paper
Straight after work Do some exercise or meditation
Just before your start dinner Have dinner earlier or later
With alcohol Change to a different drink; hold drink in smoking hand
As you plan the next task/chore Breathe deeply or try a quick relaxation exercise
As a reward e.g. completing a chore   Listen to music; have a piece of fruit
When you're with another smoker Chew gum; bring a water bottle
At night in front of the TV Change the furniture around; hold a stress ball; do some stretches
Just before bed Have a warm drink or herbal tea; read a book


Quit stronger with a smoking diary

Having a record of situations where you feel like smoking will help you learn about your habits and triggers, and be prepared. Save your updates and register with the site to keep updating your diary each time you visit the site.

Use an online diary: to begin, add a new entry below...

  1. Type what you were doing, e.g. "Chatting with other smokers" or select from previous activities.
  2. Need rating
  3. Eg. "Smoked", or "Didn't smoke, went for a walk"