Simple Ways to Resist Tobacco Cravings – Eat This, Not That

Tobacco or nicotine use is the leading cause of preventable disease, death, and disability in the United States. According to the CDC, currently, 12.5% ​​of the population smokes. Nearly three-quarters of smokers say they want to quit but fear it’s too difficult to achieve and don’t know the tools and strategies that will help them achieve their goal. There are evidence-based strategies that smokers can use to achieve success in comfort, which will reduce their risk of developing many health problems.

I have worked in tobacco control and cessation services for over 20 years. In our Community Member Cessation Program, we have treated tens of thousands of smokers for their nicotine addiction. Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps an individual can take to avoid serious illness and improve chronic health conditions.

Smokers often try to quit several times before they succeed. It is important not to get discouraged and to consider each attempt as an opportunity to learn something for the next attempt. Seeking the advice of a medical professional can give smokers the tools to finally quit smoking. Patients often tell me that they have tried to quit smoking without support, advice, or cessation medications in the past, but finally realize they need these resources to be successful. Read on to learn more and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.


Most people trying to quit don’t think it’s easy. The experience can be challenging and life-changing for those who succeed, leaving them with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and better health.

When thinking about an easy (or at least less difficult) way to quit smoking, preparation is key. Talk to your doctor and ask for help. Share your desire to quit with family and friends who you know will support you. If it’s not too stressful, choose a quit date within the next 2 weeks and try to stick to it. Prepare your home to be smoke-free – remove ashtrays, discard cartons of cigarettes and other items associated with smoking. While still brewing and smoking, some people find it helpful to switch to a brand of cigarettes they don’t really like. Also, work to break down the associations they usually experience while smoking. For example, isolate your smoking from other activities – quit smoking in the car or on your computer or during your morning coffee. These practices can make the quit date a little more manageable.

The woman is holding a mobile phone and a bottle of pills

Besides preparation, another tool that can help quit smoking is the use of FDA-approved medications. These medications (such as nicotine patches) can provide comfort and decrease the unpleasant sensations associated with nicotine cravings. Using more than one nicotine replacement product at a time can also increase your chances of success. For example, wearing a nicotine patch all day or at least until bedtime will provide a steady stream of nicotine. If you have a craving, using another nicotine product such as gum, lozenges, or an inhaler can help avoid or at least lessen the discomfort of a craving. Talking to your healthcare provider about the proper dose of nicotine replacement therapy and proper use can help make quitting attempts less painful and more successful.


Many smokers have found that it can be difficult to quit on their own. Joining a quit smoking program or support group, in person or virtually, can help you realize that you are not alone in the fight to beat cravings and avoid relapses. Listening to others describe their challenges and solutions to common withdrawal problems can provide the support needed to continue quitting smoking. Most states have quit lines, which provide trained coaches, who are dedicated to individual callers. These helplines have been instrumental in helping smokers. In conjunction with quit smoking programs and helplines, many smokers have incorporated the use of quit smoking apps into their quit plan. These apps can provide motivation, distraction from food cravings, education, and ongoing encouragement.

To resist cravings, there are a few more steps to follow. Take care of yourself – eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids and, if possible, incorporate additional exercise into your daily routine. Avoiding smoking triggers, such as coffee, alcohol, other smokers, can help especially at the beginning of the quit attempt. Try to anticipate cravings and be prepared. For example, social gatherings, certain holidays, vacations can be triggers. Have your medications with you and use them as needed. Do what you can to survive a craving: drink a bottle of water, go for a walk, call a supportive friend, breathe deeply, keep your hands and mouth busy, brush your teeth, go somewhere where smoking is prohibited, keep a diary of your cravings and how you feel, think about the benefits of quitting and the risks of continuing to smoke,

woman jogging along a trail

If you decide on a quit date, try to make it as stress-free as possible, plan a positive self-reward on that day, spend the day with a supportive friend or family member, rest enough and do some physical activity, document your reasons for wanting to quit, start saving the money you would have spent on cigarettes. And to protect your life and the lives of others, do not visit any of these 35 places where you are most likely to catch COVID.

Patricia Folan, RN, DNP, Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist (CTTS). She is the director of Northwell’s Center for Tobacco Control (CTC), an IRB-approved program that provides direct smoking cessation services to Northwell Health employees.

Patricia Folan, RN, DNP

Patricia Folan, RN, DNP, Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist (CTTS). Read more

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