Quiz: Why I Use Tobacco

This quiz can help you identify your triggers for using tobacco. Knowing your triggers will help you plan for cravings you might have. At the end, you’ll get tips to help deal with them. Choose the answer that best describes how you use tobacco.


General Trigger Tips

Smoking triggers are "high risk" situations or cues that bring on the urge to smoke. There are three types and most people have at least one of each type.

  • External Situation Triggers, like being around others who smoke, watching TV, or drinking alcohol or coffee. You may smoke “automatically” in these situations, even though you don’t even really feel like having a cigarette.
  • Internal Emotional Triggers, like feeling depressed, stressed out, or bored. You may smoke as a way of calming down when you’re stressed out or picking yourself up when you’re feeling down.
  • Internal Nicotine Craving Triggers, such as craving the taste of a cigarette or having withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, after not having smoked in a while. Sometimes you may smoke because your body craves nicotine and you respond by telling yourself that you really "need" a cigarette.

Knowing your triggers is the first step to learning how to deal with them without smoking.

People have different types of triggers that make them have cravings. When you know your triggers, you can learn how to deal with them without smoking. Your answers show that you have the following types of smoking triggers:


Nicotine is a stimulant, and you may use tobacco like caffeine—to wake up, get moving, or to keep going when you feel worn out. Here are other ways to get energy and boost your mood:

  • Get enough rest and sleep.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • When you feel tired, do things around the house to keep busy.
  • Keep your mind active. Plan your day ahead of time.
  • Think of other things to do right away when you get a craving.
  • Eat regular, healthy meals and snacks for energy. Rinse your mouth with mouthwash or brush your teeth to perk up your mouth.
  • Drink cold water.
  • Use sugar-free hard candy or gum. Try one with cinnamon flavor.


It just “feels right” to have a cigarette, cigar, or pipe in your hands or mouth. You may also like handling the tobacco, lighters, and matches.

These tips may help keep your hands busy:

  • Take up a hobby or sport that keeps your hands busy, like carpentry, painting, building models, or making bread.
  • Do chores that you have put off.
  • Play with a coin, a polished rock, or a paper clip, or twist your ring to keep your hands busy.
  • Do a crossword or jigsaw puzzle.
  • Clean your fingernails.
  • Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it when you think of using tobacco.
  • Eat regular meals to avoid being hungry. Use healthy snacks that are low-fat and sugar-free, like carrot sticks, apple slices, or sunflower seeds in the shell.


You enjoy using tobacco and feel better after you use it. Nicotine is a drug of pleasure and works on the pleasure center of the brain.

Here are healthier ways to enjoy yourself:

  • Remind yourself of all the benefits of quitting: better health for you and your family, easier to breathe, more energy, more money in your pocket, you smell better. 
  • Keep a list of the pleasures of being tobacco-free in your pocket/purse where you used to keep your tobacco.
  • Treat yourself to a different pleasure like a night out or a movie. Save the money on cigarettes for a special vacation.
  • Spend time with your friends or faith community, go to the movies, or work on a favorite hobby.
  • Enjoy your success in quitting tobacco.

Stress and Relaxation

You may use tobacco to help cope with stress.

Follow these tips to help cope with problems that create stress and tension.

  • Think of the word HALT: Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Think of what you really need and treat those issues first.
  • When you are upset, get support from a friend, take a walk, or listen to your favorite music.
  • Talk a walk or find time for a physical activity that helps you relax.
  • Do relaxation exercises like deep breathing, imagine a peaceful place, get a massage, or take a long, hot shower. Take time each day for yourself to relax, no matter how busy you are.
  • Avoid stressful situations to begin with, if possible.
  • Get enough rest and you will feel less stress.

Need for Nicotine

Your craving for more tobacco begins to build the moment you stop using it. You feel uncomfortable—irritable, anxious, or restless—when the level of nicotine drops in your blood.

Here are ways to help with nicotine withdrawal.

  • Use medications that can help. You can combine some medications for extra help. Use nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges as instructed. Using medications in the first few weeks or months can help with cravings and withdrawal. 
  • Learn to deal with cravings when nicotine “talks” to you. Don’t fall for “just one won’t hurt.”
  • Stay away from things that are known to cause urges like keeping tobacco around, hanging out with smokers, letting people smoke in your house or car.
  • Don’t buy tobacco for others. Ask other smokers at your house to smoke outside and keep tobacco out of sight.
  • Change your routine: get up from the table after a meal, drink tea in the living room instead of coffee in the kitchen, or listen to a book-on-tape in the car.
  • Tell people firmly, “I QUIT!”


Using tobacco may have become automatic. You might not even like it anymore. And you might not even miss it very much when you stop.

Here are ways to break the pattern:

  • Change your tobacco routines. Keep it in a different place. Don’t do any other activity while using it. Limit use to a place that is inconvenient, such as outside or a certain room.
  • When you want to use tobacco, wait for five minutes. Do something else first. Ask yourself, “Is this what I really need right now?”
  • Practice. Challenge yourself to skip or postpone a cigarette. Try this with your first and last cigarettes of the day. This practice may make it easier to stop completely. Change to a brand of tobacco that you don’t like. Build your quit plan set a quit date and stick to it.
  • Tell family and friends. Ask them to help by smoking outside and not offering you any tobacco.
  • Have the inside of your car, your clothes, and house thoroughly cleaned. Enjoy the fresh smell!