Should I quit or cut down?

Should I quit or cut down smoking?

It’s official – more people are deciding to quit or cut down smoking. The number of smokers in Britain is the lowest that has been recorded since 1974, with just one in six adults in the UK smoking.

The latest figures (from 2015) show that

  • men are still more likely to smoke than women (one in five men smoke, but only one in seven women)
  • one in four 25-34 year-olds smoke, compared to less than one in ten over-65s
  • the number of smokers amongst 18-24 year-olds has seen the biggest fall – down from one in four to one in five

It’s not just that people are stopping smoking.   They’re cutting down how much they smoke as well, with average consumption the lowest ever recorded at a fraction over 11 cigarettes a day.   Added to that over a million e-cigarette users are using vaping to help them stop smoking.

As a hypnotherapist a lot of people come to see me about their smoking.  They’re normally surprised when I ask them if they want to quit or cut down on cigarettes, as they all expect me to only talk about stopping.  Not only that, but they expect me to talk about a ‘big-bang’ approach, where they stop immediately from the point of coming to see me.

The fact is however that a lot of smokers either just want to smoke less, or want to stop smoking but find the idea of stopping all at once hard to deal with.  That might be because of the social aspects to smoking, or simply because they smoke so much that they would find the nicotine withdrawal very difficult.

This is why I offer smoking reduction as well as smoking cessation.  It can be used to help people taper off their smoking – in one case down from 40 a day to smoke free in six weeks.  Smoking reduction can also be used to reduce smoking to a level that people are more comfortable with – in one case from 25 down to five cigarettes a day.

So when people ask me if they should quit or cut down I always ask them which they honestly think is the more sustainable for them.  If that is a ‘big-bang’ and not smoking again that’s great.  If it’s still smoking, but much less often, then that’s great too.  It’s still improving their health, and it’s a much better choice than trying to stop, failing, and carrying on smoking as much as before.

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