It’s fairly common knowledge that quitting smoking is challenging. Why? Because the nicotine in cigarettes is physically addictive. While quitting cold turkey might seem ideal, it can bring with it a host of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. If you’re finding it difficult to quit overnight, cutting down gradually might be the answer. Here are some of the top reasons you should consider reducing the amounts of cigarettes you smoke, and the included benefits of doing so.
1. Health benefits
Arguably the most obvious, one of the biggest reasons to cut down on cigarettes is the health benefits. Cutting down could improve your gut health, lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and reduce your chances of getting diabetes. By cutting down, you could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and be less susceptible to infections. Your lung and heart health could improve and you could end up adding years to your life.
2. Cutting down can help manage cravings and withdrawal
Cigarettes are addictive because the nicotine found in tobacco enters your brain within seconds. The resulting adrenaline rush fades quickly, which leads to the feeling of craving another cigarette. Winding down could enable you to manage your cravings by giving your body a chance to adapt to lower nicotine levels. You might be able to handle withdrawal symptoms better because you’re lowering your nicotine levels gradually, rather than suddenly.
Cutting down gradually gives you more flexibility in winding down as you can adapt your quitting strategy to better handle your most intense cravings. For example, if your strongest cravings tend to strike after lunch, you could start by skipping your morning cigarette first, and indulging in that after lunch cigarette later in the day.
4. Higher success rate
Research shows smokers who adopt gradual reduction are more likely to try and succeed at quitting, especially when they use clean nicotine options (such as Nicotinell products). This might be because reduction seems to be attainable compared with quitting overnight. As you succeed at cutting down, you might become confident and motivated to continue until you quit completely.
5. Improve your appearance
Healthier skin, brighter eyes, and white teeth can seem trivial compared with lowering your risk of lung cancer and heart disease. However, these are some of added benefits of cutting down you shouldn’t discount. Being happier with your appearance is a bonus of cutting down or eventually quitting, so keep this in mind as another source of encouragement.
Smoking can damage your complexion and age your skin, but quitting and cutting down could help the skin repair itself. When you smoke, the stress of exposure to toxins such as carbon dioxide diverts vitamins away from your skin. The result is sallow, dull, dry, and flaky skin. Also, smoking is also linked to hand eczema.
The great news is the damage is reversible. Quitting can boost your skin within weeks, and you could reap similar benefits by starting to cut back.
Smoking cigarettes exposes you to irritants. This is why smokers often have red, irritated, or tired-looking eyes. Cutting back could help clear up your eyes and make them less irritated, giving you a healthier look.
Whiter teeth and nails
Cutting down on smoking could give you whiter teeth and nails. The discolouration is a result of the nicotine in cigarette smoke. An added benefit of cutting down or quitting could be lower risk of gum disease and receding gums.
6. Improve sense of smell
Your sense of smell and taste could improve if you cut back. Cigarettes change the shape of your taste buds and affect how your blood vessels form. By cutting down gradually, you could enjoy better smell and taste, with the added bonus of ridding your car, clothing, and house of cigarette smell.
7. Save money
Smoking isn’t just harmful to your health, it also does serious damage to your wallet. Smokers know cigarettes aren’t cheap. With the 12.5% annual increase in tobacco tax, a packet of 25 cigarettes could cost as much as $40 by 2020.
Australians are currently spending more than $14.5 billion on cigarettes annually, and with the average cost of a pack of cigarettes being between $25-$30, a pack a day smoker could save a massive $10,000 in just 1 year.
Think of it this way: every cigarette you don’t smoke is extra cash in your pocket. You can put away more savings, enjoy a luxury holiday, or take up a new hobby with the spare cash as a reward for cutting down.
Simple strategies to start cutting down
Apply these strategies to fight cravings as you cut down gradually:
- Do the maths – Start by doing a ‘cigarette budget’ and working out how much you’re smoking. Write down how much you’ll be cutting down by and track your progress in a diary. You could, for example, cut down by one cigarette every two days. Use NRT patches or gum, such as Nicotinell, to replace the lower levels of nicotine in your body as you cut down.
- Check triggers – Stress, family/friends/colleagues who smoke, and boredom can be strong triggers. As you cut down, pay attention to these so you can be better prepared to deal with them. Change your routine to avoid triggers and find ways to relax – meditation, yoga, or breathing exercise – so you’re less vulnerable to being tempted.
- Reward yourself – Reward yourself each time you reach a winding down milestone. You’ll have lots of extra cash on hand, so treat yourself to shopping, a relaxing massage, or dinner with friends.
- Exercise daily – Research shows that daily walks for 20 to 30 minutes could boost your chances of cutting down and eventually quitting cigarettes. Higher endorphin levels due to physical activity could make it easier to cope with withdrawals.
- Use a substitute – Deal with cravings by having substitutes ready. Whether it’s gum, nuts, or trail mix, chewing on something helps you manage cravings. NRT could be the perfect option, in particular Nicotinell® gum, because it keeps you occupied while targeting your body’s nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Ready to start reducing to quit?
There’s no best or one-size-fits-all approach to quitting. If you’ve tried quitting cold turkey without success, consider gradually cutting back with the goal to eventually quit. Use tools and strategies to help achieve a healthier you.
NRT products, like Nicotinell® combination therapy, gum, patch and lozenges, are convenient and effective options for fighting cravings. They may help make it easier to cut down and achieve your health goals. Visit our website today for more information about how our products could help you cut back.
Disclaimer: All information presented on the Nicotinell blog is provided as general knowledge and advice only. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice. Please always contact a medical professional for your individual health related matters.