It can be particularly bad in the morning. TTFC (Time To First Cigarette) is directly related to your chances of getting COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), with those who had to have a cigarette in the first five minutes at twice the risk of those smokers who could wait an hour. The nicotine surge early in the morning also raises blood pressure and can contribute to artery hardening.
The need to smoke early in the morning may be genetic. People who have the CYP2A6, which helps process nicotine, are better able to resist early morning smoking. It may be possible to aid in your delay by improving other aspects of your lifestyle (less food through your car window) to decrease overall body oxidation.
If you are also an asthmatic exposed in the night to your allergen (dust mites or other household exposures) the urge to smoke may be somewhat self-medicating. Asthmatics who smoke had a lessened late asthmatic effect, likely caused by the smoke competing with the allergen for receptor sites in your nose and lungs.
If you are a female, the urge to smoke in the morning may be linked to your menstral cycle and your levels of cortisol (an adrenal hormone). Balancing your stress levels and/or having nicotine available in another form during the second half of your cycle may help lessen smoking cravings.
While night-shift workers are less likely to smoke in the morning (as they are still asleep) they are more likely to smoke overall.
This is supported by other research on morning vs. evening chronotypes: “Compared to the evening-type participants, intermediate- and morning-type participants were significantly less likely to experiment with smoking, to smoke nondaily, and to smoke daily.”
So perhaps one of the missed aspects of smoking cessation is the alteration of when you arise in the morning