Smoking Fewer Cigarettes

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Reducing tobacco use as a step toward quitting may help you quit for good. Slowly cutting down the number of times you use tobacco in a day and going longer without using it can help you feel more in control. You will be less dependent on nicotine, which can make it easier to quit.

It's best to reduce tobacco use as a step toward quitting, not as an end in itself. It's not clear that cutting back on tobacco reduces the health risks of using tobacco.

If you smoke, reduced use has problems.

  • People who smoke only a few cigarettes have more health problems than people who don't smoke.
  • People who cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke tend to change their puffing patterns so they get more nicotine out of each cigarette.
  • It may be hard to keep a reduced rate of smoking over time.

Cutting back on how much you smoke

Reducing how much you smoke is a great first step toward quitting for good. Here are some methods to try.

  • Each week choose a few specific cigarettes to give up.

    For example, stop smoking in your car on the way to work, or stop having cigarettes with your morning coffee.

  • Slowly increase the time between cigarettes.
  • Smoke only during odd or even hours.
  • Limit your smoking to certain places.

    For example, you may decide to only smoke when you're outside and never to smoke in front of your children or when you're in your car.

  • Wait as late in the day as possible to start smoking.
  • Try going one day without smoking.

Related Information


Current as of: November 15, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.