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Smoking Triggers: Coffee and Caffeine

Caffeine as a Trigger for Smoking

Caffeine and smoking often go hand-in-hand, with many people having a smoke with a cup of tea or coffee, or a caffeine-based soft drink. This means that caffeine can be a big trigger for cravings when you quit smoking.

Why does caffeine trigger my smoking cravings?

Interestingly, it may not be the caffeine alone that triggers the craving.

You might be drinking caffeine in particular circumstances when a nicotine craving hits – such as having a cup of tea while socialising with a friend, or having a coffee when you wake up.

As you start on your quit smoking journey, it can be useful to identify situations like these that might trigger a smoking craving for you.

And remember – non-smokers enjoy caffeine just as much as smokers, so it’s perfectly possible to have a coffee, tea or cola drink without a cigarette!

Tips and Tricks for Caffeine Smoking Triggers

To help you on your quit attempt, here are some tips for dealing with caffeine as a smoking trigger:

  • Avoid or decrease caffeine. If possible, it’s best to avoid or minimise coffee, tea or caffeine-based soft drinks for a little while. It is recommended to reduce your caffeine intake by about half when you’re trying to quit or cut down your smoking.
  • Change your coffee break routine. If your smoking routine involves socialising with a smoker during a coffee or tea break, consider avoiding that break for a while, or choose a different ‘non-smoking’ location.
  • Drink something else. Swap your caffeinated drink with something non-caffeinated, such as a hot chocolate.
  • Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). NRT products can help to reduce cravings. But remember, drinking caffeinated drinks while using an oral NRT will reduce its effectiveness – the perfect excuse to skip your caffeine drink!
  • Create ‘no-smoking’ zones. It will help a lot to ensure there is no tobacco in your home; if you live with a smoker, try to ensure tobacco isn’t easily accessible.
  • Know the effects of caffeine are stronger when you quit smoking. The effects of caffeine can be increased by up to 50% when you quit smoking, so cutting down can also help you sleep.

Good to Know

Remember that nicotine cravings don’t last forever and will go away eventually – you just need to stick with your quit smoking attempt and let them pass.
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