I've had asthma since 1980s. Don't skimp on your rescue inhaler. I know the feeling well - "if I can just get by without it I must be getting better!" But I learned that if I was trying to not use it, that meant I needed it. Because I was thinking about whether I needed it, due to actually needing it. When days would go by without a thought of it, then I knew that I really was breathing well without it because it never entered my mind. Peak flows of course confirmed these ideas/thoughts/feelings with objective measures.
It's hard on one's heart and lungs to struggle. It's better to use the albuterol when you need it.
As an aside, after daily asthma meds for over 20 years (long acting inhalers with rescue as needed) I have been off all meds for over six months now. Allergy shots have gotten to the root cause for me. It took 3 years of allergy shots with gradual improvement over time - I never thought I'd be off all medication. I'm still amazed by this development. I feel great.
Good job on the quitting smoking, 👍🏻