Cutting down on the number of cigarettes smoked can be a helpful first step on the road to giving up altogether, a review of previous studies has said.
Across 19 studies that looked at the effects of cutting back, participants in 16 of them benefitted by taking the next step and giving up entirely, said the University of Vermont research.
A separate study recently showed that reducing the number of cigarettes smoked did not provide any of the health benefits of giving up completely, however.
“Our review indicates cutting back is often a great way to start changing smoking that can lead to eventual quitting,” said lead author Professor John Hughes.
“It contradicts the commonly held belief that quitting requires stopping abruptly and provides evidence that smokers can quit successfully by reducing the amount of cigarettes smoked.”
Most of those who successfully went on to kick the habit supplemented their will power with nicotine patches, gum or other replacement products.
The researchers added that cutting down was only useful as a step on the way to giving up cigarettes entirely and provides no health benefits in itself.
The study is published in the December issue of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.