Have you attempted to quit smoking without cutting back first, only to smoke again a day or even minutes later? Some experts will tell you that making a clean break from cigarettes is the only way to stop. But when cold-turkey does not work for you, then what? You must pick a method to quit smoking that works with your habit–with your personality.
In all the ways you have tried to stop smoking, did you try cutting back gradually, over time? Reducing smoking slowly allows you to acclimate your body to less nicotine. Plus you will take control of your habit by smoking “on purpose.”
Here’s how to make a gradual stop smoking schedule for yourself:
Step 1. Estimate the number of cigarettes you normally use every day.
Step 2. Decide how rapidly you will quit smoking. Put another way, how many cigarettes will you reduce each day? A good number to use is 2 per day. We will call this the Daily Reduction Number.
Step 3. Divide your estimate from step 1 by your Daily Reduction Number from step 2. For example, if you smoke 60 cigarettes each day, divided by 2, you get the number 30. This is how many days you will need to reduce your smoking down to zero.
Step 4. Take some paper and on the left-hand side write down the number of days you calculated in step 3 above. For example, if your result was 25, write Day 25. Now below that write Day 24, Day 23, etc. until you reach Day 1.
Step 5. From the bottom of the list (Day 1) write your Daily Reduction Number from step 2 above (“2” in our example). On the line for Day 2, add the Daily Reduction Number to the number on Day 1. In our example, you would write 4 on Day 2. On Day 3 you add the Daily Reduction Number to your number on Day 2. Continue adding until you add up to the top of your list. You are now that many days away from being smoke free!
Once you make these calculations you are now ready to gradually cut back on your cigarette use. Carry your “cessation plan” with you at all times. You may want to put the plan inside your cigarette pack.
Begin the plan by using the number of cigarettes on the beginning date of your plan. Whenever you smoke, put a check next to the day you are currently on. When the number of marks equals the number of cigarettes allotted for that day, you are finished smoking for the day. Space out your smoking accordingly!
To dramatically improve the effectiveness of this plan, try the following. Like most anything of value it takes some effort. At the beginning of day, gather together all the cigarettes you will be smoking that day. By visually keeping track of the number of cigarettes you will be smoking that day, you can more easily judge how to pace your smoking. By the way, if you reach the end of the day and have cigarettes remaining, don’t tack them on to the next days allotment. Instead, congratulate yourself for smoking less than your allotment.
Use this formula to calculate your smoking reduction plan:
(Average Number of Cigarettes Smoked Daily) ____ / ____ (Daily Reduction Number) = ____ days
(for example 40 cigarettes / 2 cigarettes less per day = 20 days)
The plan as given above is but one variation of the weaning process. If need be, modify the plan to better suit your own smoking habits, number of cigarettes smoked, time needed to stop smoking, etc.
Quitting smoking gradually can be a great way to stop a smoking habit. By weaning yourself from the prison that is nicotine, and taking control of your habit, you make quitting much more do-able. Begin your reduction plan today!