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Cutting Down

Cutting down your cigarette use is an effective way to stop smoking completely or to lower the nicotine level in your body to a level where medication is effective. Cutting down slowly reduces the amount of nicotine your body receives and helps you recognize your smoking behavior.

To begin cutting down on cigarettes, you must know the exact number of cigarettes you smoke every day. Reduce the total number of cigarettes by one every two days. For example, if you smoke 30 cigarettes per day, start with 29 cigarettes a day for two days, then 28 cigarettes a day for two days and so on. Continue this process until you are at 15 to 20 cigarettes per day.

At 15-20 cigarettes per day, there is approximately 15-20 milligrams of nicotine in your system (one cigarette = one milligram of nicotine). The patch contains 21 milligrams of nicotine and will help to satisfy your cravings without a cigarette. In other words, the amount of nicotine your body requires will equal the amount of nicotine in the nicotine patches.

It is beneficial to write the number of cigarettes you are allowed each day on a calendar so you can keep track. This is the maximum number of cigarettes you are allowed to smoke each day. You can smoke up to the amount, less than the amount, but not more than the amount allowed for the day. Cutting down too quickly will cause withdrawal symptoms so it’s important to take it slow.

Feel free to reward yourself on your calendar by buying some stickers and putting one on your calendar each day you only smoke your target number. You should be proud of your accomplishments and using a visual aid like a sticker will help you keep track of your progress and should make you feel good. Even if it seems a little childish, sometimes hands-on activities like this will increase your motivation to become a non-smoker.

We’re waiting for you to call.

You may feel like you’re alone sometimes, but in fact, there are many of us at the Illinois Tobacco Quitline who are simply waiting for your call. Quit now. We can help.