be good to yourself...


Cutting Down

Is there one among us who has not tried cutting down our tobacco intake at one time or another? Perhaps you weren't even thinking of quitting smoking as the ultimate goal, but of trying to reduce the damage or risk or save a little money. I have personally notched many a cardboard matchbook cover in my day. What I got for my trouble was an obsession. How much time has passed since my last smoke? Can I have another yet? How do I make this number of cigarettes last me through hours?

It would seem to be self-evident that gradually cutting down on smoking would be a viable means to quitting altogether. After all, the less you smoke, the less drug in your system, and this is the logic behind the nicotine patch and Nicorette gum, right? But in fact, whether your goal is to smoke less or to quit entirely, you're not doing yourself any favors by cutting down, because each cigarette that you light sets you right back down in the middle of your addiction cycle. The further apart you stretch the supply of drug, the longer you suffer the discomfort of withdrawal. The only way out of this cycle is to stop feeding the addiction altogether. That way, the body eventually gives up demanding the drug, and you're on the road to freedom.

Switching to a lighter brand might seem sensible, and theoretically it is. But keep in mind that what makes a cigarette's nicotine content less is manipulation of the filter, not the tobacco, and smokers in reality manage to compensate for that manipulation by holding the cigarette a certain way and/or inhaling more deeply.

Having said this, there are some people who have quit by cutting down, delaying smoking further and further into the day, limiting the places where they smoke, and/or switching brands. And if it works for you, great! If not, next time you can try another strategy. The important thing is that you keep trying to quit.