Cutting Back is One Step Forward

For many people, cutting back on how much they smoke might seem less scary than quitting tobacco altogether. Plus, some people think that since they are only occasional smokers, it’s really not that harmful. But the reality is that there is no safe level of smoking, and even occasional cigarette use can do harm to your mind and body. That said, cutting down can be an important step on the road to quitting altogether.

 

Do you find yourself saying the following things to justify your tobacco use?

  • "I only smoke on the weekends."

    Smoking is harmful to nearly every system in your body, and even occasional use can cause cumulative, long-term negative health impacts. From the first time you inhale a cigarette, changes start happening within your body. For example, your metabolism immediately changes, your heart rate increases, and your risk of heart attack or stroke increases.

  • "I don't buy cigarettes, I only have one if my friends are smoking."

    Nearly every smoker starts smoking in this way. Very few people just go out and buy a pack and immediately become addicted. However, addiction to nicotine is a process that is unique to each individual. Some people become addicted sooner than others and can demonstrate the symptoms of addiction within days or weeks of regular use.

  • "I'll go days/weeks/months without smoking."

    While smoking less is always a good thing, smoking is still a dangerous activity. With smoking being such an addictive habit, even 'social smokers' can end up in the throes of addiction after being confronted with a stressful period in their life. Don't take the risk.

  • "I only vape/use e-cigarettes.”

    There is limited evidence surrounding the safety of e-cigarettes/vaping. While some research suggests that their effects can be less harmful than smoking tobacco, and that they may be a viable tool to quit or as a less-dangerous alternative to cigarettes, evidence regarding the extent of potential harm is inconclusive. You can read more about e-cigarettes and vaping by clicking on the link below.

  • "I don’t know where to start.”

    Cutting back can be a great first step if you are ambivalent about quitting. The reduce to quit method has been proven to increase your chances of quitting in the long-term. It involves gradually reducing your tobacco intake while using NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) products like nicotine gum or lozenges. Steps include gradually reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day, choosing a quit date, and managing craving and withdrawal symptoms with NRT and behavioral techniques like the 4 D’s (Drink Water, Deep Breathe, Distract, Do Something Else).

Activity

The next time your friends go out for a cigarette, try excusing yourself and getting a glass of water. This will not only keep you hydrated if you're drinking, but cold water can also help cut the cravings.