For many, stress is a primary trigger to lighting up a cigarette. We can usually feel when stress arising - think rapid heart beat, breathing quickens, muscles contract and that feeling of being flustered. Given the stress response is automatic, over time, our response to coping with, or alleviating, that stress also becomes automatic - to smoke a cigarette. And yes, whilst there is that temporary feeling of relief due to the rush of dopamine, we know that it's not the best thing for us and actually makes things worse over time.
Next time you can feel your stress levels rising, try the 'Physiological Sigh' - 2 inhales (preferably through the nose) and 1 long deep exhale through the mouth. A proven way to reduce stress levels in real-time and accessible in any situation - whether when the kids are playing up, you've an important presentation to give or the builders next door won't leave you in peace. Check out this 2 minute video where Andrew Huberman (Neurobiologist, Stanford University) explains how this quick exercise can help you.
Give it a try before reaching for the cigarette when stressed, and see how you go!