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How to Cut Down to Quit Smoking

What is Cutting Down to Quit?

The cutting down to quit method involves reducing your smoking as you move towards a quit date.

It’s a bit like taking the slow lane – you’ll still reach your destination, but the journey might seem a little easier.

Cutting down to quit may feel right for you if you know you want to quit smoking, but you’re not ready to stop completely right now. By cutting down, you’re at least doing something as you move towards a quit date.

Find out more about setting your quit date

Is the cut down to quit method effective?

Research shows that smokers who cut down to quit have a similar chance of quitting as those who stop abruptly on their chosen quit day. However, for this to be effective, you need to set yourself a quit date before starting to cut down.

The advantage of cutting down to quit is that it allows you to reduce your smoking at your own pace, without putting too much pressure on yourself as you move towards your quit date.

How do I quit smoking by cutting down?

If you’re considering using the cut down to quit method to stop smoking, we recommend using these strategies to help you achieve your quit goal:

  • Work out your ‘cut down to quit’ time period:
    - Decide how long you are going to work towards your quit day
    - Setting a timeframe of no more than 2-4 weeks to reduce to low levels before quitting completely seems to work best
    Find out how to set your date to quit
  • Be prepared and plan ahead:
    - Avoid situations where you used to smoke
    - Take up new activities to replace old smoking habits
    - Change the routines you associate with smoking
    - Plan rewards using the money you save from not smoking
  • Get support on your quit smoking journey:
    - Ask a friend or family member to support you in your quit attempt
    - Call the NSW Quitline for confidential help and advice
    - Get online support through iCanQuit

Give Yourself a Helping Hand

To give yourself a greater chance of success, there are also more specific reduction strategies to consider:

  • Try using nicotine patches two weeks before quitting.
  • Use oral NRT over a longer period if you are not feeling at all motivated, or do not want to quit now. Here’s how it works.
  • Consider a prescribed quit smoking medication to assist with your quit attempt. The two prescribed quit medications available in Australia both allow for a short reduction period.


The sooner your body stops taking in the many dangerous chemicals found in every cigarette, the sooner you’ll experience the benefits of being a non-smoker.
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