Welcome aboard, Gene. You came here for support, so I'm going to offer you some.
I'm a little concerned with your approach. I'm not going to say that you're not going to be successful in quitting your nicotine addiction in another 5 weeks, but I seriously doubt it. You will be no further ahead then, than you are now and it matters not a single bit how much you're "stepping down" administering the drug that you're trying to get clean from. From what I can gather, you've been unsuccessful in battling this addiction for seventeen years now; seventeen years is a long time to be failing to remain nicotine-free. I suspect that the times that you did quit puffing on cigarettes that you might have replaced the puffing with NRT. You went from lozenges to the patch and once you're done with the patch, you'll probably go back to lozenges, gum or whatever delivery method you choose to feed your addiction. Obviously, the plans that you've been following have not worked.
I know of a plan that will work. Stop feeding your addiction. Stop putting nicotine into your body. You can call it cold turkey or whatever you choose, but it's a wiser choice than failing for another seventeen years. NRT works for some people and we support the use of NRT for a short period of time, only. Seventeen years is hardly what I consider short-term. You're running a very high risk of smoking again which you need to lower immediately.
Quit the nicotine. Let others help and support you and until you have some time under your belt, you're in no position to support others in their quits because you are unable to support your own. Get serious about it this time and listen to what others here have to say and stay nicotine-free forever. If you don't want to or don't think you can, guess what, do it anyway.