I’m not an expert. I’m just a schlub who was lucky enough to quit smoking 7 years ago after smoking 1 to 2 packs a day for 38 years. Since then, I’ve taken an interest in the subject and read most all of the research. There are many ways to try to quit smoking and, frankly, it’s none of my business how anyone else quits. Not to be cold, but I've got my quit and, bottom line, that's the one I really care about. But, if my best friend asked me what I would recommend, this is it. It's not exactly what I did in the exact order, but it's exactly what I would do knowing what I know now.
a) I wouldn’t bother with setting a quit date or cutting back or any of that. No matter what you do, it’s not going to make any real difference on the day you quit. So any extra apprehension or anxiety or nicotine withdrawal before you quit will just be added to the total. I’m all for as little pain and suffering as possible, so no need to add extra before you even quit. If you just happen to have a moment when you have "had enough" and quit spur of the moment, all the better. The ol' sneak attack.
b) I also believe in getting the pain and suffering (i.e. drug withdrawal) over as soon as possible. So, my recommendation is just stop using nicotine period. Rip the band aid off. It’s out of your system in 72 hours; the entire physical withdrawal is complete usually in 14 days (worst case 28 days). Then, it’s over and you can get on with the longer process of relearning learned smoking triggers without having to swim against the strong undercurrent of drug addiction at the same time. I realize that this advice goes against the recommendations of the Become an EX plan and the advice of the companies selling pharmaceutical nicotine, so take it or leave it. Just saying what I would recommend.
c) If you can afford it, I would spring for the $149 Allen Carr webcast seminar. This is the video version of their $400 quit smoking seminar. Runs just under four hours and it is awesome. Combination of the Easy Way to Quit Smoking method along with a dose of effective motivational speech and maybe even some hypnotic elements. I had the opportunity to watch it after I had quit and it's really, really good. Watch it in one or two sittings and smoke your final cigarette as instructed at the end. I don’t know of any four hour presentation that will get you as ready to quit smoking as this. You get access for 15 days, so I would plan on watching the whole thing to quit and then a second time at the end of the first week. Yes it’s expensive, but it’s $50 less than the standard 10 week run of Nic patches and $75 less than just one month of cigarettes. A better buy, IMO, than either of those if you are thinking about quitting smoking.
d) Once you quit, I would spend every waking moment you can reinforcing it. Read the Allen Carr Easy Way book or listen to the audio book.
Listen to or watch the Joel Spitzer video quitting lessons. There are hours and hours and hours of these. The early ones can be downloaded as MP3s to put on your iPod or phone for listening on the go or in the car. All of them are available as YouTube videos. Crave a cigarette? Forget smoking, play one of Joel’s videos. It’ll make you want to quit and understand how to be successful.
e) If you enjoy forum interaction and support, post a daily blog here about your journey, especially in the early going. It will help stay motivated.
You want to really throw everything you can at quitting. It is always going to be easier to just "git 'er done" the first time and not go through the quit/relapse/quit/relapse/quit/relapse cycle. The materials I've linked will be a HUGE help in doing that.
The two key concepts. Never take another puff. And, be a happy ex-smoker by realizing that you aren’t "giving up" smoking, you are gaining freedom from the ball n’ chain of drug addiction.