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Miriam Hospital Expert: Why It’s So Hard To Quit Smoking, Best Way To Kick the Habit


rih-event-moth-artic-57296-smoking November 21 is the Great American Smokeout

While the number of smokers in the country has been steadily declining, each year more than 400,000 people die prematurely from smoking or secondhand smoke. With the annual Great American Smokeout scheduled for November 21, an expert from The Miriam Hospital discusses why cigarettes are so addictive and the best ways people can kick the smoking habit.

According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently 43 million people in the U.S. who smoke -- roughly 1 in 5 adults. In addition to the hundreds of thousands who die prematurely, another 8.6 million are living with serious conditions caused by smoking. It’s estimated that a person will quit seven times before it sticks.

Ernestine Jennings, PhD, researcher at the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam Hospital, talks about the psychological factors of smoking, common methods of quitting and current research.

Ernestine Jennings, PhD, is a researcher with The Miriam Hospital Center for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine (CBPM). She explains why smoking is so addictive. “First, people can become physiologically addicted to the nicotine found in cigarettes. In addition to the physical addiction, there are also the psychological triggers for smoking. This combination makes it very difficult for many to quit,” she explains

Jennings says the most effective ways to quit are through self-help groups and counseling; using nicotine replacement therapy like the nicotine patch, gum or lozenges; or a medication prescribed by a physician, like Chantix. She adds that the research conducted through the CBPM shows that a combination of these methods often has the best results.

It’s also important for people to figure out what their triggers are for smoking and what causes them to crave a cigarette. Knowing what those triggers are can help them avoid those situations and reduce the urge to smoke.

Also, recognizing the benefits you will reap from quitting can often be a support as well. Thinking about how much money they’ll save each month, and knowing that quitting smoking adds seven to 10 years to your life can make it seem worthwhile.

The Miriam Hospital and the CBPM offer quit smoking programs to help people who are trying to break the habit and both have been very successful in helping people quit and, more importantly, stay quit.

Learn how The Miriam Hospital can help you quit smoking.