Still feeling the urge to smoke months after you’ve quit? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Even the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew felt those urges after quitting smoking, according to The Straits Times[1].

Former US President Barack Obama wasn’t immune to his urges either. The Telegraph reported that before successfully quitting, he kept caving in to his urges despite chewing on nicotine gum[2].

Why aren’t my urges going away?

Feeling these urges is not a sign of weakness. Nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive, much like heroin or cocaine. Plus, the longer you had smoked, the harder it is for your body to get used to the absence of nicotine.

The good news? The intensity of your urges should lessen the longer you stay smoke-free, so stay strong! In the meantime, try out these ideas to help you control your urges.

Related: Weather the Withdrawal

Practise Self-Care

Don’t beat yourself up when you feel the urge to smoke. Instead, try to stay calm by doing relaxation exercises. Do deep breathing[3], stretch to relax muscles[4], or give yourself a massage. Lightly squeeze your arms and legs, or use roller balls to massage your body.

Have a self-care routine: go for massage or spa sessions (use some of the money you’ve saved by quitting!). Alternatively, take the budget route and sit in a mall massage chair or take a relaxing bath.

Related: Self-Care Is Important Too

Talk to Someone

Call up a close friend or family member when you feel the urge coming on. Chatting to your loved ones can help distract you from reaching for a cigarette. Plus, they can be a source of motivation for you to stay strong and not give in to your urges.

Related: Getting Support: Self-Care Is Important Too

Get a Good Snooze

Lack of sleep will make you feel tired and more irritable. You’ll then be more tempted to smoke when the urges come. Try to clock in about seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep recharges your body and mind, giving you more control over your urges.

Related: Catch Your Zzzz’s: Tips for a Better Good Night’s Sleep

Stay Active

Exercising regularly will help take your mind off cravings, and give you a mood and energy boost. Go for a brisk walk in the park after lunch, or cycle during the weekends. You can also take part in the free activities offered by the Health Promotion Board.

Related: Get Active!

Think Positive

Whenever you find yourself craving a smoke, remind yourself how far you’ve come and give yourself a pat on the back. Think of what you’ve gained from quitting: better health for you and your loved ones, more savings, no more dependency on cigarettes… the list goes on.

With these ideas on hand, try them out the next time you feel the urge to smoke. Don’t give up, stay strong, and keep on going!

Resources for Quitting

Join the I Quit 28-Day Countdown now! Call QuitLine at 1800 438 2000 for support, and visit participating retail pharmacies for advice that can help you quit.

Read these next:


  1. Tan, S. (1992, May 10). From 20 cigarettes a day to none. The Straits Times, pp. 2

  2. The Telegraph, (2011, Feb 09). Barack Obama quits smoking after 30 years. The Telegraph.
    Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/8314049/Barack-Obama-quits-smoking-after-30-years.html

  3. Health Promotion Board. [HPBsg]. (2017, Jun 05). HealthHub Pre Diabetes — Deep Breathing Technique [Video file].
    Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PqcxsiZ4KQ

  4. Health Promotion Board. [HPBsg]. (2017, Apr 05). HealthHub Pre-Diabetes - Stress Relief Exercises [Video file].
    Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6fYqEjG-Nc