I think this is terrible advice and doubt whether more than one smoker in a hundred would succeed by following it. In effect it's a prescription for six weeks of self-torture when in fact only three days of complete abstinence are needed to get all the nicotine out of your system.
Beware of Cutting Down
Many smokers resort to cutting down either as a stepping-stone towards stopping or as an attempt to control the little monster, and many doctors and advisers recommend cutting down as an aid.
Obviously, the less you smoke the better off you are, but, as a stepping-stone to stopping, cutting down is fatal. It is our attempts to cut down that keep us trapped all our lives.
Usually cutting down follows failed attempts to stop. After a few hours or days of abstinence the smoker says to himself something like, 'I cannot face the thought of being without a cigarette, so from now on I will just smoke the special ones or I will cut down to ten a day. If I can get in the habit of smoking ten a day, I can either hold it there or cut down further.'
Certain terrible things now happen,
1. He has the worst of all worlds. He is still addicted to nicotine and is keeping the monster alive not only in his body but also in his mind.
2. He is now wishing his life away waiting for the next cigarette.
3. Prior to cutting down, whenever he wanted a cigarette he lit one up and at least partially relieved his withdrawal pangs. Now, in addition to the normal stresses and strains of life, he is actually causing himself to suffer the withdrawal pangs from nicotine most of his life. So he is causing himself to be miserable and bad tempered.
4. While he was indulging himself, he didn't enjoy most of the cigarettes and he didn't realize he was smoking them. It was automatic. The only cigarettes that he imagined he enjoyed were after a period of abstinence (e.g. the first in the morning, the one after a meal, etc.).
Now that he waits an extra hour for each cigarette, he 'enjoys' every one. The longer he waits, the more enjoyable each cigarette appears to become because the 'enjoyment' in a cigarette isn't the cigarette itself; it's the ending of the agitation caused by the craving, whether it be the slight physical craving for nicotine or the mental moping. The longer you suffer, the more 'enjoyable' each cigarette becomes.
The main difficulty of stopping smoking is not the chemical addiction. That's easy. Smokers will go all night without a cigarette; the craving doesn't even wake them up. Many smokers will actually leave the bedroom before they light up. Many will actually have breakfast. Some will even wait until they arrive at work.
They will go ten hours without a cigarette and it doesn't bother them. If they went ten hours during the day without one, they would be tearing their hair out.
Many smokers will buy a new car and abstain from smoking in it. Smokers will visit supermarkets, theatres, doctors, hospitals, dentists and so on without undue inconvenience. Many smokers will abstain in the company of non-smokers. Even on the Tube trains there have been no riots. Smokers are almost pleased for someone to say they cannot smoke. In fact, smokers get a secret pleasure out of going long periods without a cigarette. It gives them the hope that maybe one day they will never want another one.
The real problem when stopping smoking is the brainwashing, the illusion that the cigarette is some sort of prop or reward and life will never be quite the same without it. Far from turning you off smoking, all cutting down does is to leave you feeling insecure and miserable and to convince you that the most precious thing on this earth is the next cigarette, that there is no way that you will ever be happy again without one.
There is nothing more pathetic than the smoker who is trying to cut down. He suffers from the delusion that the less he smokes, the less he will want to smoke. In fact, the reverse is true. The less he smokes, the longer he suffers the withdrawal pangs; the more he enjoys the cigarette, the more distasteful they become. But that won't stop him smoking. Taste never, ever came into it. If smokers smoked because they enjoyed the taste, nobody would ever smoke more than one cigarette. You find that difficult to believe? OK, let's talk it out. Which is the worst-tasting cigarette? That's right, the first in the morning, the one that in winter sets us coughing and spluttering. Which is one of the most precious cigarettes for most smokers? That's right, the first cigarette in the morning! Now do you really believe you are smoking it to enjoy the taste and smell, or do you think a more rational explanation is that you are relieving nine hours' withdrawal pangs?
It is essential that we remove all the illusions about smoking before you extinguish that final cigarette. Unless you've removed the illusion that you enjoy the taste of certain cigarettes before you extinguish the final one, there is no way you can prove it afterwards without getting hooked again. So, unless you are already smoking one, light one up now. Inhale six deep lungfuls of that glorious tobacco and ask yourself what is so glorious about the taste. Perhaps you believe that it is only certain cigarettes that taste good, like the one after a meal. If so, why do you bother to smoke the others? Because you got into the habit of doing it? Now why would anyone get into the habit of smoking cigarettes that they find distasteful? And why should the same cigarette out of the same packet taste different, after a meal than it tastes first thing in the morning? Food doesn't taste different after a cigarette, so why should a cigarette taste different after food?
Don't just rely on me, check it out, smoke a cigarette consciously after a meal to prove that it tastes no different. The reason smokers believe that cigarettes taste better after a meal or at social occasions with alcohol, is because those are the times when both non-smokers and smokers are really happy, but a nicotine addict can never be really happy if that little nicotine monster remains unsatisfied. It's not so much that smokers enjoy the taste of tobacco after a meal, after all, we don't eat tobacco, where does taste come into it? It's just that they are miserable if they aren't allowed to relieve their withdrawal symptoms at those times. So the difference between smoking and not smoking is the difference between being happy and miserable. That's why the cigarette appears to taste better. Whereas smokers who light up first thing in the morning are miserable whether they are smoking or not.
Cutting down not only doesn't work but it is the worst form of torture. It doesn't work because initially the smoker hopes that by getting into the habit of smoking less and less, he will reduce his desire to smoke a cigarette. It is not a habit. It is an addiction, and the nature of any addiction is to want more and more, not less and less. Therefore in order to cut down, the smoker has to exercise willpower and discipline for the rest of his life.
The main problem of stopping smoking is not the chemical addiction to nicotine. That's easy to cope with. It is the mistaken belief that the cigarette gives you some pleasure. This mistaken belief is brought about initially by the brainwashing we receive before we start smoking, which is then reinforced by the actual addiction. All cutting down does is reinforce the fallacy further to the extent that smoking dominates the smoker's life completely and convinces him that the most precious thing on this earth is the next cigarette.
As I have already said, cutting down never works anyway because you have to exercise willpower and discipline for the rest of your life. If you had not enough willpower to stop, then you certainly have not got enough to cut down. Stopping is far easier and less painful.
I have heard of literally thousands of cases in which cutting down has failed. The handful of successes I have known have been achieved after a relatively short period of cutting down, followed by the 'cold turkey'. The smokers really stopped in spite of cutting down, not because of it. All it did was prolong the agony. A failed attempt to cut down leaves the smoker a nervous wreck, even more convinced that he is hooked for life. This is usually enough to keep him puffing away for another five years before the next attempt.
However, cutting down helps to illustrate the whole futility of smoking because it clearly illustrates that a cigarette is enjoyable only after a period of abstinence. You have to bang your head against a brick wall (i.e. suffer withdrawal pangs) to make it nice when you stop.
So the choice is:
1. Cut down for life. This will be self-imposed torture, and you will not be able to do it anyway.
2. Increasingly choke yourself for life. What is the point?
3. Be nice to yourself. Just stop doing it.
The other important point that cutting down demonstrates is that there is no such thing as the odd or occasional cigarette. Smoking is a chain reaction that will last the rest of your life unless you make a positive effort to break it.
REMEMBER: CUTTING DOWN WILL DRAG YOU DOWN.