Most physicians, including yours truly, have recommended to our smoking patients to quit abruptly (“cold turkey”), rather than slowly cutting down. In a recently published study in the Annal of Internal Medicine, Lindson-Hawley et al examined the success of quitting smoking by gradual means compared to abruptly quitting. This was a study of almost 700 smokers in England, and included behavioral support and nicotine replacement. The primary outcome was prolonged validated abstinence from smoking at 4 weeks after quitting and the secondary outcome was validated abstinence at 6 months.
The authors found that, compared to trying to quit by slowly cutting back on your smoking, quitting smoking abruptly was more likely to lead to lasting abstinence, even in those patients who preferred to quit slowly.
Bottom line: You are better off quitting cold turkey.