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Quitting Smoking by Gradual Reduction

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A slow gradual reduction in the number of cigarettes you smoke over time is a method that many people try. Methods include smoking only half the cigarette, waiting an hour longer each day before lighting up your first cigarette or smoking only during odd or even hours. Although you are weaning yourself from addiction, you are still prolonging your exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco.

This strategy involves gradually reducing your daily intake of nicotine to a level that will produce minimal-to-no withdrawal symptoms. It eliminates the need to rely on a nicotine replacement therapy to withdraw from nicotine. It is an old "tried and true" method that can be used to reduce and/or quit your tobacco use. It is also less expensive than using pharmaceutical medications.

You can reduce your tobacco use and nicotine dependency without producing withdrawal symptoms by:

  • Using less tobacco per day.

  • Using less tobacco each time

  • Breaking your brand identification by frequently switching brands of tobacco products

  • Taking fewer drags/inhales per cigarette

  • Inhaling less deeply

  • Reducing to less than 10 cigarettes, or a quarter a can of dip, per day to prevent nicotine dependency

  • Reducing to two to five cigarettes, or a fifth of a can of dip, per day to reduce health risks

  • Switching to a lower tar/nicotine/carbon monoxide content tobacco product

A self-administered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can be helpful for tobacco reduction or cessation. The self-administered NRTs include the gum, the inhaler, and the nasal spray. Tobacco users can use NRTs to break their habit in two stages: they can focus first on overcoming the more difficult behavioral and psychological components of their tobacco habit without having to go through nicotine cravings or withdrawal at the same time; and they can wean themselves from nicotine at a later date of their own choosing, and at their own rate, when there is no longer the psychological and behavioral urges to use.


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