Smoking Triggers for Young Smokers and How to Get Past Them

Quitting smoking is not an easy task for anyone, much less young people, so it's important that they get all the help they can to ensure success. In Australia, both government and private organisations are helping young people quit smoking by creating and funding mass media public education campaigns

Becoming a successful quitter takes a lot of willpower which means it's very important for young smokers to become aware of their most common smoking triggers and find ways to avoid them.

Determining well-known as well as hidden and seldom talked about triggers can really help you on your journey to Quitting Smoking. Learn about potential triggers that could be present in your life and look for ways to avoid them when you do decide to quit again.

Download the 13 Seldom Talked about Smoking Triggers here.

Smoking Triggers

The main triggers for young people fall into four categories: daily routine, emotional, social and withdrawal.

Daily routine triggers

Everybody has a daily routine that they follow and smokers associate them with the perfect time to light up. For a person who is trying to quit smoking, these are probably the most frustrating triggers. More common among younger smokers are the following:

  • sitting down at the computer and spending idle time on the internet
  • playing video games 
  • watching TV 
  • checking social media on a mobile phone
  • playing games on a mobile phone
  • finishing a meal or snack
  • drinking coffee
  • chatting or texting with friends
  • driving in the car
  • doing homework

Because daily routines are such a huge part of human life, these triggers are often difficult to avoid. Being aware of your most tempting situations and making even small changes is very beneficial. While sitting in front of the computer or television, or checking out your mobile phone, pick up a small object that you can play with instead of smoking to train your mind and hands to concentrate on something different. While driving, exchange smoking for singing, humming or drumming to upbeat music. After a meal, snack or drink go for a walk or do some sort of movement that becomes the habit in place of smoking.

Emotional triggers

Young people, especially teenagers are very sensitive emotionally and emotional triggers are very strong and often overlooked. It is especially beneficial for young smokers to realise that it is normal to have these strong emotions but to be aware that are smoking triggers for them. Some of them include:

  • boredom
  • anger
  • stress
  • depression or feeling sad
  • being happy or excited
  • feeling confused
  • being afraid

 It is very difficult to control emotions, especially during the teen and early adult years and support from the community, family and school staff is especially important. Rather than turning to smoking at a time of stress or boredom, turn to physical activity. Even a brisk walk around the school grounds will help you calm down. If you are feeling overwhelmed, confused or afraid, talk to a counselor or parent. Discussing your feelings and understanding them works wonders.

Social triggers

Social activities are a huge part of a young person's life and unavoidable. Some of the most common smoking triggers are:

  • drinking alcohol
  • going out for coffee with friends
  • meeting friends during school or work break
  • parties
  • peer pressure
  • eating out

It is impossible to avoid social activities at a young age, but making behavior changes during the activities is possible. First, ask your friends to respect your attempt to quit smoking and get them to join you. If you are at a party or club, resist the urge to smoke by dancing or circulating more. Instead of alcohol, choose a fizzy drink or juice.  Finding a smoke-free environment in Australia is not difficult. Smoking bans have been in place since the early 1990s and reports show that they are widely accepted and successful.  

Withdrawal triggers  

The symptoms of smoking withdrawal are real and they are difficult to ignore. The triggers of withdrawal may include:

  • craving the taste of cigarette smoke
  • smelling smoke
  • wanting to touch cigarettes, packs or lighters
  • feeling restless
It takes strong willpower to quit smoking so don't let withdrawal triggers wipe out all your hard work. If you have the urge to smoke find something to take your mind off it immediately, chew gum, eat candy, dance, walk, sing or make something.  

In Australia today many young people have quit smoking. The percentage of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who smoke has dropped to 19% in recent years.

If you would like more information on smoking triggers for young smokers or other, related information, contact us. You can also get a lot of great information from our report: "13 Seldom Talked About Smoking Triggers".

Smoking Triggers