Should you quit smoking while driving? Of course the answer is a big yes!

You should quit smoking all together, but if not possible at least you should try to quit smoking while driving.

But as with all smoking problems, this is also a hard one to conquer, especially if you’re a heavy smoker.

In this article I will write from my own experience, as a driver who used to smoke in the car and successfully quit.

It won’t happen overnight, but if you put some effort to it, you will gradually succeed for sure.




Before I start with tips and advice, it seems only fair to start from my own example and what made me quit smoking while driving.

I always loved driving; it was and still is a great passion for me. I can still drive for 400-500 kilometers with a few short stops and still not get weary of driving.

One of my previous great pleasures in life was, when embarking on a long road trip (especially if I went alone), was to prepare some snacks, soft drinks and of course cigarettes. Once I was on the road my small ritual could begin. First some snacks, after that some soft drinks and then I would light up one.

This combined with some good music on the car radio and I was in heaven.

Well…this was all like that until I got married and got kids. The moment I made my first drive with my newborn was the moment when I concluded that there wasn’t a chance that I was going to invade my child with my bad habit.

And believe it or not, I never did. Somehow, something clicked inside my head where I simply didn’t need to smoke while driving. The craving simply evaporated while behind the wheel.

It even continued when I was alone in the car.

Maybe the whole story sounds corny, but the vision of my kid engulfed in cigarette smoke just stopped me from doing it.

That’s the simple truth.



Now that helped me but here are some tips which will perhaps help you and which additionally helped me:

1. Have a proper mindset


This is by far the hardest tip but most effective. In my opinion, whoever conquers this one doesn’t need any of the tips below.

If you master self-control over your cravings, then you have complete control over the situation.

Easier sad then done, you’ll say and if you can master this then you’d probably quit smoking all together.

But starting to quit smoking while driving could be a good beginning to get rid of this bad habit.

This is what it will probably look like in practice:

You’ll tell yourself before the drive starts that you won’t smoke. Then the drive begins. After about an hour (depending on how much you smoke it can be shorter or longer) you’ll start thinking about smoking. The urge to light one will start to increase evermore.

At this point you have to find a milestone to hold to. As I’ve mentioned, mine was kids or a non-smoker in the car. Find something that will help you overcome this first urge-attack as it is the worse.

It has to be a big motivation so every time you grab the pack, you proudly return it back and say NO. This can be health, pride, keeping your clean car, whatever works for you. Just as long as it’s a strong  motivation and you won’t succumb.

The craving lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes and then it, more or less, goes away. Not completely, but it’s a lot easier.

If you’re a heavy smoker, use this tip wisely. Don’t go overboard and immediately try to quit. This will probably cause huge distraction in driving as you’ll be more focused on when you’re going to smoke rather than driving itself.

Take it slowly and if you feel you’re not up to it immediately, rather make a stop and have a smoke. Better this then causing an accident.

2. Gradually lengthen the driving distance without smoking (don’t go overboard)

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so the saying goes. There is a good probability that you won’t immediately master how to quit smoking while driving.

If this is your case, then try one step at a time. One good method is gradually lengthening the time you don’t smoke in the car.

For instance, if the trip is longer smoke only where you plan to make a stop for resting. Make a good assessment if you’re able to endure from one point to the other. If not, no shame in that.

Just  add a few more stops in between. As mentioned, driving safety is first. A distracted driver who only thinks of cigarettes is a danger on the road.

Then stick to the schedule and set a goal. Smoke only where you’ve planned. If you make it, then the hardest part is done.

After that, just start erasing the number of stops. One at a time. If it’s a longer trip, try erasing on the drive back. If it’s a regular commute, then erase stops gradually on the usual route.

As the stops go away, you will naturally lengthen the time without smoking. At the end, if everything is OK, you’ll get the hand of how to quit smoking while driving.

3. Make a lot of stops


When talking about stops, this can be a huge incentive for how to quit smoking while driving.

Yes, I’ve mentioned that stops are good to keep the concentration high and the distraction low.

But, especially if you’re a chain-smoker, you’ll have to make a lot of stops in order to indulge yourself.

It will help you overcome the craving, but as you’ll see it is impractical during a drive or road trip especially if you have kids with you, non-smoking passengers or you’re in a hurry.

Over time you’ll see frequent stopping as a nuisance and loss of time. This fact combined with a proper mindset will be a winning combination.

Plan out stops wisely possibly at rest areas where your passengers can have their own time for rest. This goes double when having a road trip with kids.

Wisely choosing a place for a stop means the difference between you having a relaxed smoke and between looks of hatred and misunderstanding from within the car.

4. Think of your passengers


If you light up one in a car full of non-smokers, it just seems unsuitable, even rude.

Just put yourself in a position of a non-smoker; confined space, smoke getting in your face and eyes, odor sticking to your clothes.

Not very pleasant at all, if you agree.

Think about this when you want to light up a cigarette. Is the craving so strong that it will make you seem rude or even embarrass yourself?

5. Remove the ashtray and lighter


One of my previous cars was a Fiat Stilo (if you want to read about my experiences click here for a separate article on that topic).

When I bought it, the ashtray (which was one of those removable cup-like ones) and the built-in lighter were removed.

It seemed to me that the previous owner was negligent about the car until it lit up in my head that this was an anti-smoking measure.

Very good one at that, both for yourself and anybody who would want to smoke in the car.

Think about it, how many people will smoke if there isn’t an ashtray….few.

How many people will leave the cigarette aside when they don’t have a lighter….a lot.

A major inconvenience for a smoker, I agree, but for this topic it has huge effectiveness.

6. Fill the ashtray


I’ve seen people use the ashtray as a vessel for candy, a holder, they fill it with that scented sand thing etc.

To connect to the previous tip, no ashtray probably means no smoking.

At the same time the ashtray has a more practical use. This option certainly beats a stinking ashtray or one full of cigarette buds.



On this part we’ll talk about that time in the car between stops and how to overcome the crisis period while staying focused on the road.

Main point here is to create a distraction from cigarettes while  indulging yourself st the same time.

You should perhaps:

  • Have a soft drink or some water at hand


Every time smoking comes to mind, just open the bottle and have a sip or two. This should help.

Soft drinks better helped me then water, to tell you the truth. Perhaps because they have sugar inside pleasuring you in another way. Choose what suits you and your health best.

  • Have some snacks, food or candy at hand


Snacks or food should help even better. A lot of smokers will tell you that the next best thing to a cigarette is food.

Buy yourself a favorite snack, perhaps make you’re favorite sandwiches, fruit, whatever you like best.

Candy is also good as it keeps the mouth busy for a longer period of time.

The main point here is to properly indulge yourself with your favorite food instead of smoking.

  • Chew gum

If you like to chew gum, this is a big help.

As with candy, the mouth will be busy while chewing gum and this should make the craving go away for some time.

Also you can buy chewing gum for quitting smoking and combine two goods together.

  • If you have passengers, try having a long conversation

Conversations in cars are a nice thing if they’re not too distracting.

Nothing like a good conversation about cars, sports, gossip or else. This will also help you to take your mind off of cigarettes.

Find a nice topic that you and your passengers like. This will mean a long conversation for sure.

The longer the better and before you know it an hour or more will pass.

  • Put some of your favorite music on while driving


Find some time and make a compilation of your favorite music.

Once the drive starts and if you get the urge to smoke, pop in the compilation and enjoy.

Music also produces a sense of pleasure which can help you quit smoking while driving.



Needless to say that there are benefits of doing this, either quitting smoking in the car or quitting altogether but it’s fair to mention them.

If you want to learn more about quilting smoking, click here for a great explanation on Wikipedia.

If you decide to quit smoking while driving the benefits will be:

  • Your health

Wouldn’t want to comment on the health issue since I’m not an authority on that matter, but all I can say is that you’re going to save yourself some lungs and perhaps prolong your life.

Less smoking in the car means less smoking all together.

Just make a calculation of how much time you spend in the car. Then how much time you spend smoking while driving. Even if you don’t smoke much, it gradually adds up to a pretty big amount of time without smoking.

In my case, since I live in the countryside and use the car for commuting, about one-fourth of my “smoking” time was eliminated.

Add this up to 8 years of practicing this and you’ll see that it’s a significant amount of time without cigarettes.

  • Your passengers health

Your passengers, when they drive with you should always be a good incentive to quit smoking while driving.

If you get the urge to light one up, remember that your passengers inhale a toxic smoke which is a by-product of your own bad habit.

Essentially, you’re being very selfish to other people and endangering their health.

As I’ve mentioned, my kids and other non-smoking people were a good enough reason to lay down the pack and lighter.

  • You will keep the interior of your car in good condition


You can recognize a car which is owned by a smoker right away. Bad odor, traces of smoke on the upholstery (especially the roof part), burn traces on the seats etc.

These all give your car a ragged look even if you take care of it in other ways (mechanically, interior cleanliness etc).

This is especially bad if you want to sell your car privately or want to trade in for a newer car.

(If you want to learn how to sell your car privately fast and simple click here for a separate article on that topic).

Worth mentioning also is the fact that you and your passengers are driven in an unhealthy environment.

People tend to avoid this by opening the window when smoking or emptying the ashtray right after they’ve had a cigarette. But that just doesn’t cut it. Traces will be left and noticed.

Some alternative solutions are deep cleaning the interior or replacing the seat upholstery (if you have burn holes on the seats), Both of these are pretty expensive and with questionable outcome. Even after that traces will be seen.

I’m sorry, but if you want to keep your car interior in prime condition, you’ll just have to quit smoking while driving.

  • Better focus on the road and driving


Smoking while driving is a distraction and that’s a fact. Especially if you’re a beginner driver. Simply, one hand is occupied that should be on the wheel.

Also the eyes have to be “taken” of the road in order to reach and find the ashtray.

This is not that bad on a highway where you’re driving in a straight line, but if you have a road with curves or a lot of traffic, smoking while driving can pose a danger.

Among them the worse is cigarette ash and cinder falling on you or on the car upholstery while driving. Also, throwing cigarette buds out the window while driving is a serious danger. This can burn you instantaneously or can even start a small fire.

The surprise burn or smoke can easily distract you and can cause a harsh reaction which can even lead to an accident.



Some of these tips will help you and some will not.

But above and before all of these tips I urge you to have the proper mindset. When you set your mind to it everything can be done.

Use the practical tips in the beginning but the proper mindset has to prevail. The tips serve for paving the road to quit smoking while driving but the mindset is the vehicle that will get you there.

Also, take one step at a time. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, this is a gradual process. Don’t push yourself too much and become nervous and distracted.

This can only cause problems, delays or even an accident.