Have you tried quitting smoking cold-turkey, only to smoke again a day or even minutes later? Many health practitioners will tell you that making a clean break from cigarettes is the only way to quit smoking. But when cold-turkey doesn’t work for you, then what? You have to pick a way to quit smoking that you like and can do successfully.

If you’ve tried cold-turkey and that didn’t work, maybe you should try gradually cutting back a single cigarette at a time, over a period of days or weeks. Cutting back gradually allows you to wean your body of the addictive effects of nicotine. Additionally you will take charge of your habit by smoking in a purposeful manner.

Here’s how you can make a gradual quit smoking schedule for yourself:

1. Estimate the number of cigarettes you typically smoke each day.
2. Decide how many smokes you will take away from your daily allotment. I suggest two per day. This number will be called the Daily Reduction Number.
3. Divide your number from step one by your Daily Reduction Number from step two. For example, if you smoke 40 cigarettes each day, divided by 2, you get the number 20. This is how many days you will need to completely quit smoking.
4. Using a piece of paper, on the left side write down the number of days you just determined you need in step three above. For example, if your result was 30, write Day 30. Now below that write Day 29, Day 28, and so forth all the way down to Day 1.
5. From the bottom of the list (Day 1) write in the Daily Reduction Number from step two (in this example, 2). On Day 2, add the Daily Reduction Number to the number on Day 1. In our example, you would write 4 on Day 2. On Day 3 you add the Daily Reduction Number to the result on Day 2.

Continue this process until you add up to the top of your list. You are now that many days away from quitting smoking!

Once you make these calculations you are now ready to gradually reduce your cigarette use. Keep your “cessation plan” with you at all times. You may want to put the plan inside your cigarette pack.

Begin the plan by smoking the number of cigarettes on the first date of your plan. Whenever you smoke, make a mark next to the day you are currently on. When the number of marks equals the number of cigarettes specified for that day, you are finished smoking for the day. Pace your smoking accordingly!

Here’s a tip that will greatly improve your chances of success by eliminating cheating. Like most anything of value it requires some effort (but not much). Each day, count out the day’s allotment of cigarettes and keep them together. By visually keeping track of the number of cigarettes you will be smoking that day, you can more easily understand how to space out your cigarettes. One more thing: if you get to the end of the day and have cigarettes left over, don’t tack them on to the next day’s cigarettes. Just pat yourself on the back for smoking less than you planned on.

The plan I have given above is just one alternative of the smoking reduction process. If necessary, modify the plan to match your own smoking habits, number of cigarettes smoked, time needed to stop smoking, etc.

Weaning yourself from cigarettes over a few weeks can be a great way to end a cigarette habit. By weaning yourself from the prison that is nicotine, and taking charge of your habit, you make stopping much more do-able. Start the weaning process today!

— Fred Kelley helps thousands of people to quit smoking each year at www.quitsmoking.com. Smokers can find over 100 stop smoking articles, plus get quit smoking products and help at the QuitSmoking.com forum.