Giving up smoking

‘Cutting down’, unsuccessful attempts and trying again

Rather than trying to go ‘cold turkey’ when they give up smoking, some people decide that it might be better to gradually wean themselves off by reducing their cigarette consumption over several weeks. This seems a gentler way to give up, and to fit with people’s observation that they don’t really ‘need’ or enjoy many of the cigarettes they are smoking. However, we did not meet anyone who had been able to logically progress from smoking less to quitting for good in such a straightforward way.
Keith, and others, managed to stop smoking during the day or while they were at work. One of the problems with cutting down the number of cigarettes is that it can lead people to watch the clock and inhale very deeply when they did smoke. This could undermine their attempt to stop since it meant that they started to really enjoy the few cigarettes they were having. Rukmini could have a few ‘social’ cigarettes without smoking every day but few people seem able to maintain this controlled level of smoking. Sarah didn’t understand people who could be ‘social smokers’.
The danger of ‘just one cigarette’

After they had quit, some people occasionally allowed themselves to smoke something different, such as a cigar on a special occasion, or thought that they could handle having ‘just one’ cigarette.
In the days when people were allowed to smoke in public places, in pubs and on trains it was easy to get hold of a cigarette or cigar in a weak moment.
​Last reviewed August 2018.


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