When trying to quit smoking, many people try to “cut back” on the number of cigarettes they smoke, instead of set a quit day.
This sounds like a logical way to quit, but is it a good idea?
If cutting back is something you are considering to help you quit smoking, here are three of the most common arguments for it’s effectiveness:
“Smoking fewer cigarettes per day is healthier.”
In theory this is true, but according to one study by the American Association for Cancer Research, heavy smokers who try to cut back, end up inhaling more deeply when they do smoke.
This is because they tend to compensate for the cigarettes not smoked, which results in deeper and longer “drags,” and up to twice the amount of toxins and nicotine.
“It’s a more gradual way to quit.”
If you find yourself paralyzed by the fear of quitting, cutting back could seem like a great way to “ease into it,” as opposed to stopping on a set day. However, each day you cut out a few cigarettes, you are bound to feel withdrawal symptoms.
If you spread the reduction over several weeks or months, it will also prolong your withdrawal symptoms.
“It gives you time to change your habits.”
While it’s important to create new habits to replace each cigarette, gradually cutting back leaves the door open to slipping back into old habits very easily. Without a solid plan, slipping into old habits is very likely.
Different things work for different people, so whether or not cutting back is a good idea will depend on your desire to quit, and how well you prepare.
To increase your chances of success by cutting back, try the following:
- Start using medication at the same time you start reducing to lessen the withdrawal symptoms.
- Have a clear plan, and set a date to get to zero.
- Keep it shorter than six weeks to minimize the opportunity to slip backwards.