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Survival guide to the smoking area

How to cope with smoking areas, when you're trying to stay off the smokes.


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


"Understand that quitting is different for everyone, and it’s going to take some experimentation to find out what’s the best quitting technique for you. But if you stick with it, you’ll get there."

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Anyone who has tried to quit smoking will have been there before - quitting is going great and you’ve been off the smokes for three weeks. You’ve played everything by the book and you are using the “not a single puff” rule. You’ve made a quitting plan – choosing the healthy options, increasing your daily physical activity and your strategies for the cravings are working. And to be honest, you’re feeling pretty delighted about this.

Your quit plan seems to be working well for the most part- though your worried about social situations with alcohol and being along with others who smoke, situations up to now you have been avoiding.

So you and your mates decide to go out at the weekend. You’re dressed up, you’re dancing and you’re having a deadly time. Everyone decides to head out to the smoking area to cool down, because it’s a sweatbox inside and it’s too loud to chat anyway. They light up their smokes, but you’re staying strong. You’ve quit smoking for good, and that’s the end of that. But while watching your mates puff away on their smokes, you can’t help but think “Just one smoke won’t hurt, right?”. you consider that “just one won’t hurt”- you have two options here: You borrow one off your mate, enjoy your smoke, and tell yourself that’s it now - no more smokes tonight. 

You ask your mate for one and tell your self that’s it, though the reality it’s only 11:30pm and you’ll be out for another few hours at least.  At 12am you’re struggling and the desire to smoke is getting stronger. You decide that if the cravings don’t go away by 12.30am you’ll give in, but you won’t ask your friends for one – you’ll buy them. You remember there is a vending machine in the club and you buy 20, smoking two straight and before the night is out- you smoke 6 or 7 more. Tomorrow you continue smoking and you’re back smoking again – consider was it worth having “just the one” and “did it hurt?” 

Or do you take option two: You knew the combination of the alcohol, social and others users was a very risky situation and could jeopardise your quit attempt- so you decided no matter what “I’m not smoking”. You tell yourself that quitting smoking does not mean you cannot have a fantastic social life.

Look, we know how hard this is. We know you love going out on a Thursday night, and all the best craic is in the smoking area. We know you can’t just give up the best part of your life because you’ve quit the smokes. But trust us. You can have a deadly social life without being a social smoker.

Top tips for surviving the smoking area without the smokes

  • It’s your night out. Enjoy yourself! Think of all the things you love doing on a night out instead of smoking, and do those things instead! If dancing is your thing, try to go to clubs or pubs that you know play all your favourite tunes, so you’ll be too busy on the dancefloor to even think about smoking. 
  • Munch away. If you’re getting bad cravings, you need to find other ways to keep your hands occupied. Head straight to the bar, grab yourself some peanuts or crisps and munch away. Go go go!
  • Play with your phone. If you miss how it feels to have a smoke in your hand, play with your phone instead. Have some fun on Snapchat, post a selfie on Instagram or Tweet the funny thing your mate just said. Anything to keep your hands moving!
  • Find a non-smoker and hang on to them. All you need is at least one non-smoking friend to hang out with while your other mates are smoking. Find someone you know who is brilliant craic, so you’ll be laughing so hard that smoking won’t even be on your mind.
  • Communication is key! Let your mates know in advance that you’ve quit smoking and you’re not going to smoke tonight. Let them know you’ve been working hard on quitting and it’s really important to you that you don’t waste all that hard work tonight. They’ll understand, they won’t offer you smokes, and they’ll do whatever else they can to support you.
  • Know who to avoid. Sadly, there are people out there who aren’t going to encourage your quitting, and will think it’s funny to try to tempt you back into smoking. Politely avoid these people, and hang out with other mates. You don’t need that kind of drama anyway!
  • Watch your alcohol intake. We all know alcohol increases your desire to smoke, as well as impairing your judgement. So for your first night out after quitting, it might be a good idea to stick to the soft drinks and avoid alcohol. We know, we know, this is a pain. But try to make it easier on yourself. Instead of drinking alcohol on that one night out, why don’t you promise to spend the money you would have spent on drink on that top you’ve been looking at instead? Or if not, maybe gig tickets, or a meal out? Go on, treat yourself. You deserve a reward for doing so well on quitting.
  • Whatever you do, do NOT buy cigarettes. When quitting smoking, everyone makes occasional mistakes. If you really can’t help yourself and end up taking a drag of your friend’s smoke, it’s not the end of the world, as long as you resolve for it not to happen again. But if you buy cigarettes on a night out, it’s the first step on a slippery slope. You’ll still have the remainder of that pack left the next day, and next time you get a craving, you’ll be so much more likely to give in. 

How quitting the smokes will improve your nights out

We know it’s not going to be easy. Smoking is a psychological and social addiction as well as a physical one, and nightclubs, bars and smoking areas are absolutely filled with triggers that will have you craving cigarettes. But you’re well able to quit - just stay strong. Yeah, it’s going to be tough at first, but just remind yourself of all the benefits. In fact, quitting smoking could seriously improve your nights out rather than making them worse:

  • Think of all the money you’ll save. Check out our calculator on www.spunout.ie/quit After a couple of weeks, you’ll have saved enough to buy a new outfit for going out. Or if that’s not your kind of thing,  think about how deadly it would be to always be able to buy a pizza at the end of the night, and not worry that you won’t have enough cash left for a taxi home.
  • Your appearance improves and breath is fresher – it’s amazing to wake up from a night out without that gross ashtray taste in your mouth!

  • Believe in yourself -stay confident and keep your desire to quit strong. Initially, it may be tough- keep reminding yourself of your reasons for quitting, the benefits you have already experienced and those to come.
  • Research shows that smoking makes hangovers way worse. So if you cut out the smokes, you’ve a lower chance of waking up with a sore head and nausea. 
  • And wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up from a night out without that gross ashtray taste in your mouth?
  • Not everyone likes to date a smoker. You might miss out on the person of your dreams all because of your smoking habit. 

So keep on trying your best. Yes, quitting is a tough process and it takes time and patience. But we know that you are more than capable. Be good to yourself, and don’t feel disheartened if you occasionally slip up. Understand that quitting is different for everyone, and it’s going to take some experimentation to find out what’s the best quitting technique for you. But if you stick with it, you’ll get there.

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Published September 29th, 2014
Last updated December 21st, 2015
Tags smoking quit smoking
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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