Scaling Down One Cigarette at a Time

How to stop smoking cigarettes was a subject I was increasingly interested in the more I became aware of how unhealthy it truly was. At exactly the same time, however, every attempt I created to stop led to complete failure.

One Failed Attempt After Another

My inability to give up smoking had not been because of lack of resources. There were many good articles and I had continue reading in my search for the best way to quit smoking. I had also attempted to go cold turkey repeatedly, just to finally throw in the towel and light up again after many hours or days.

scaling one cigarette at a time

Fact: 9 out of 10 smokers start before the age of 18, and 98% start smoking by age 26

On one occasion, however, I had better luck, only it lasted for a short period of time. In this case, I was actually able to quit for nearly three weeks, a record for me, and I was beginning to lose the tobacco cravings which are sometimes quite intense. I thought I might finally be walking on to a new life without cigarettes. But with pressure of the latest responsibilities and deadlines at the job that have been extremely hard to fulfill, I felt very stressed. My cravings hit with a vengeance, and I finally broke down and got a new pack of my favorite nicotine product and immediately lit up. A short while after I had another one and after that another. Before long, I was back on track with my old deadly habit.

Should I Quit and Gain Weight?

For a long afterward I didn’t even bother thinking to stop smoking. I was hooked and unable to stop. Furthermore, the experiences of my closest friend and the girlfriend only convinced me to simply accept my fate. While they have both been able to give up smoking with an entire sixteen months using hypnosis and giving cigarettes up completely, they’d each packed on almost thirty pounds and were having difficulty getting the weight off. I certainly didn’t need to quit smoking and put on pounds.

I continued to avoid thinking about how to quit smoking until I met an acquaintance who told me her story and how she had finally stopped smoking after many failed attempts. While I was not considering using her technique, I was in awe of the fact that not only she had smoked far more cigarettes than I did and successfully rid herself of the habit, but also did not gain any weight in the process.

One Cigarette at a Time

Her method involved quitting by one cigarette at any given time and also at her very own pace. Starting point is having a baseline range after which you cut down. Originally, she explained, she wasn’t really certain of simply how much she smoked during a day and was shocked when she started recording the amounts and realized she smoked between seventeen and twenty cigarettes each day, depending on her mood and situation.

Since twenty was the highest figure and seventeen the lowest, she decided to start with scaling down to between sixteen and nineteen cigarettes per day. For several weeks she could stay within that range until she found herself capable to smoke at most eight cigarettes per day and could comfortably stay at this number.

Then she challenged herself to reduce an additional cigarette and properly maintained as of this number for the week, while she tried various new non-smoking forms of activities to switch that lost cigarette. Eventually she reduced to merely one and finally quit completely. This entire process took her almost a year. However, during that time, she was able to stop the cravings that follow the process of giving up tobacco.

By scaling down one cigarette at a time at her pace, she has also been in a position to replace smoking with new activities without involving stress which follows large behavioral changes.

Her technique did make sense in a way, but I still wasn’t convinced it could work for me personally. After all, it seemed one would need significant self-discipline and patience, and I so far wasn’t very disciplined. Besides, I liked fast results. But I did like the idea of working with a comfortable pace, and I believed I could tolerate and would be in a position to succeed at quitting just one cigarette at a time as an alternative to all all my cigarettes at once

I Gave It a Shot

Quit smoking one cigarette at a time

Fact: Approximately 18% of high school students smoke cigarettes

It was easier for me to calculate my cigarette reduction because I basically smoked the same number of cigarettes each day. I had a very consistent rate of smoking and I smoked for relaxation after meals, at breaks, and most part when I came home from work each day. On weekends I still smoked at approximately the same times. The first week I was able to decrease by one cigarette and could make this happen for 2 weeks. Then I reduced by another and then another inside the following weeks. By the time I was smoking only two cigarettes each day I had developed a new habit of chewing sugarless gum after meals and doing something relaxing or more productive than smoking – reading a good magazine or going for a walk.

For me the hardest was keeping myself on course month after month and week after week. I had nobody to tell me when I should try and decrease yet another cigarette or remind me to keep committed and patient. On one occasion after I had succeeded in smoking only three cigarettes a day, I grew impatient and chose to try and drop one more when it probably was still to early. I couldn’t take care of the new two cigarettes limit for longer than a couple of days. However, I surely could go time for three cigarettes and hold steady there to get a couple more weeks.

Despite this and also other small setbacks, I was able to recover quickly. In my past efforts, when I was trying to quit cold turkey, every setback would made me light up and go back to smoking the same or even larger number of cigarettes I smoked before.

Nine Years and Counting

It may be nine years since I quit, one cigarette at a time. I no longer find myself having cravings and am truly enjoying my well-being a lot more like a non-smoker. My family is spared from inhaling all those deadly fumes. I am also appreciative of the fact that I have a way to live longer and be around the people I love the most.

The way that my acquaintance and I quit smoking once and for all isn’t for everybody. However, the technique could be modified to one’s needs and can be an alternative for smokers who had been unsuccessful with other methods. It also produces the smallest amount of volume of stress and cravings and worked for me as being the last option. Perhaps it might work for you too.

Submitted by Rick, Rotterdam, Netherlands

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