How to Quit Smoking Gradually

Everyone knows that quitting smoking can be hard, but thankfully, we now live in a world where it is easy to get help and support. However, depending on your unique stop smoking journey, you may find it easier to cut down gradually rather than go cold turkey. Here, we look at how to quit smoking gradually and whether this is the right choice for you.

How to cut down smoking gradually

Hundreds of people attempt to quit smoking every day, and it can be a gruelling process without the right support. Going cold turkey is often mentioned as a way to stop smoking but many smokers struggle with this method as it places lots of stress on your body and mind. However, for some people, quitting smoking gradually is a viable alternative, slowly reducing your need for cigarettes over the course of a few days or weeks. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and it may take a while to get used to and to find methods that work for you as an individual.

How to cut down smoking gradually

There are a number of ways to quit smoking and cut down gradually. Quitting smoking gradually can mitigate the shock to your system and you may be less likely to go on a smoking binge or relapse.

Here are some tips in which can help you to quit smoking gradually:

  • Pick a quit date – This will help confirm it in your mind and give you a sense of urgency and action.
  • Make a list – Most people find lists very helpful as they see the negatives and positives in front of them. Write down all the reasons why you want to quit.
  • Build a support network — Finding a smoking support group or quit smoking buddy to confide in is extremely valuable and can really help keep you on track.
  • Move — Exercise can make you feel healthier and increase positive thinking. Not only will exercise give you a mental boost but you may be less likely to want to smoke after your hard work. It can also distract you from wanting to light up.
  • Use stop smoking services and try out NRTNicotine replacement therapies can replace the nicotine you are missing from cigarettes and help you gradually cut it out entirely.
  • Be aware of triggers and social situations — There’s no reason to stop enjoying yourself but being aware of what triggers you and avoiding those situations is a big help.
  • Treat yourself and practice saying no — This may sound contradictory, but discipline is key to quitting any habit or addiction. Practicing saying no to your urges and then rewarding yourself may also help keep you on track.

Quitting may seem a bit daunting to begin with, but once certain habits are put in place your quitting smoking journey will be a lot easier. By cutting down smoking you will instantly begin to make a positive change to your body and overall lifestyle, and you will begin to enjoy the benefits in as little as 20 mins after your last cigarette.

How to quit smoking gradually

Quitting smoking gradually is a lot easier thanks to local services and stop smoking support groups. The NHS suggests that you seek out your local pharmacy or GP or arrange a meeting with a professional quit smoking advisor, and according to Jennifer Percival (an accredited stop smoking advisor), ‘the majority of people who see an adviser will get through the first month after quitting without smoking a cigarette.’

However, some people can find meetings quite daunting and intimidating, thinking they need a finished quit smoking plan to present to the advisor. You’re not at school and it isn’t homework. An advisor is there to help you create an individual plan and work with you if you want to stop smoking gradually. Advisors are aware of the difficulties of quitting smoking and how emotional it can be for certain individuals.

Abrupt quitting smoking

Many smokers would agree that the physical aspect of smoking plays just as big a part as the nicotine addiction. You may be at a party and a friend offers you a cigarette or you may just be used to having a cigarette with a drink in hand. Peer pressure and lifestyle play key roles in why some people smoke and there are many factors involved.

It can be difficult to quit smoking abruptly simply because your life doesn’t stop when you quit. As mentioned earlier, going cold turkey is deemed the best course of action for quitting smoking by health professionals, and as soon as you quit the better.

However, if it was so easy then surely there would be many people who would be able to quit easily. This obviously isn’t the case and NRT and smoking support groups have been created in order to help people cut down as much as possible.

The NHS recommends that an individual who wants to quit smoking should, ‘set goals,’ and, ‘think about reducing the number of cigarettes he/she consumes each day, each week or fortnight.1 So, whilst abrupt quitting smoking would ideally be the best option. It’s not always achievable straight away—and that’s OK.

Whether you want to quit one day at a time or one cigarette at a time, NRT can help you manage your cravings. Speak to your pharmacist or local NHS Stop Smoking service for more information and read our quitters stories for more inspiration.

Find out more about quitting


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