When will I stop craving cigarettes?


January 13, 2016

Prepare for surprise moments when you thought you were past this.


No matter how well you’re doing in your efforts to quit smoking, it shouldn’t surprise you if you’re craving cigarettes sometimes, at least during the first six months after your last cigarette.

Cravings – those powerful, difficult-to-resist yearnings for a smoke – tend to be strongest in the first few weeks after your quit date. But depending on the person and the moment, cravings can surprise people even weeks and months later.

Cravings aren’t just a physical symptom of withdrawal. They can also be a reaction to certain situations. That’s why, though most nicotine washes out of your system in the first month after you quit, you may feel a strong urge to smoke when you enter a bar or visit a friend you used to smoke with. Stress can trigger cravings, too.

To arm yourself against surprise cravings:

  • Make a list of the places where you used to smoke, the times of day and what circumstances or people you associate with smoking.
  • Avoid those situations and people, if possible, at least in the first weeks or months after you quit.
  • If you can’t avoid the places and people that are likely to trigger your cravings, plan in advance how you’ll resist the urge to smoke when you find yourself in those circumstances.
  • Keep some nicotine gum or lozenges with you at all times while you’re quitting, to resist the temptation for a cigarette.

Don’t be discouraged! Though cravings are natural, they get weaker and less frequent the longer you go without smoking. Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made. You’ve already gained some health benefits, even if it’s only been a short time since you gave up cigarettes. Remember that quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health.

To work with a counselor to help you create a plan for quitting, call the Tennessee Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or use it online at tnquitline.org.

Read more about smoking cessation — the benefits and tips for quitting — here.