How to quit smoking: Cutting down to quit
How you quit smoking is up to you. There is no right way, or wrong way. You might find one method works, or a combination of them together. It’s your call. What matters is that you get there.
If the idea of quitting outright seems a bit daunting, then cutting down to quit might work for you. That way, you gradually reduce the amount you smoke until you are ready to quit completely and put smoking behind you for good.1
If that sounds like a plan, read on and get some helpful tips to help make cutting down your quit method.
Does it really work?
Research has shown that smokers who cut down to quit have a similar chance of success as those who quit abruptly on their chosen quit day. But there are certain rules you should follow for it to work. You need to set yourself a quit date, and stick to it.1
How do you do it?
Make a plan. Sit down and work out how long you want to cut down for before taking the plunge and quitting altogether. You might like to talk with your doctor about a good timeframe for you to spend cutting down to quit.
Once you have worked that out, the next step is to choose your quit day and commit to it.1
You also need to set goals on how you are going to reduce your smoking. How many cigarettes will you reduce your smoking by during the first week, the second week, and then the next week? It’s important that you keep reducing the number of cigarettes as you approach your quit day.2 You might like to keep a simple chart on your computer or a list in a notebook or diary to write down your smoking reduction goals for each week and then track them.
What else can you do to make it easier?
Give yourself a fresh start with a new routine or two. Try avoiding places that you would normally have a smoke:1
- Instead of meeting at the pub, you could meet your friends for dinner at a restaurant or a picnic at the park.
- If you usually have a smoko at work, try going for a walk instead.
- If you associate your morning coffee with a pick-me-up cigarette, try switching to a cup of tea to get you started instead.
These might seem like small changes, but they will go a long way towards helping achieve a smoke-free you.
Get some support. You don’t need to do this alone. Ask your friends and family to support you, to encourage you and to be there for you.1 They probably want you to quit just as much as you want to!
You can also talk to your doctor. After all, you're up to 4x more likely to succeed in quitting with the help of a healthcare professional compared to quitting unaided.3
Mix it up. Just because you’re cutting down to quit, doesn’t mean you can’t supplement it with some other quit smoking methods.1
- Counselling can give you the structure, motivation, skills and confidence you need to achieve your end goal and give up smoking.4
- Nicotine replacement therapy can help reduce some of the withdrawal symptoms while you are cutting down to quit.1,2,5
- Prescription medicines can also assist your quit attempt. Your doctor can provide further information and determine if this is a suitable option for you.1
What should you be aware of when cutting down?
Once you have started cutting down, there are a few things to be aware of. Make sure you don’t start inhaling more deeply than usual or taking more puffs (or both) to maintain the normal nicotine effect.2
You should also stay focused so you don't lose your commitment to stop smoking whilst you are cutting down. Cutting down might feel tough, as you will still experience some of the withdrawal symptoms, but you won’t have the financial and health benefits that you get when you quit completely.2,6,7 That’s why it’s so important that you stay strong and stick to your designated quit day.2
If cutting down to quit sounds like it will work for you, make sure you stick to the plan, follow our tips and get the support you deserve. After all, it’s finally going smoke-free that really counts.
Take the first step
The first step to quitting starts with a doctor. Find out how you can get the help you need.