How to quit smoking: 5 actions you can take now


(CNN)Cigarette smoking is very addictive and can have long-term, adverse health effects. But there is hope for those who want to quit thanks to innovative apps, help lines and proven coping strategies.

In 2019, more than 34 million Americans smoked, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was almost 14% of Americans 18 and older.
Cigarettes have chemicals that can make this addiction particularly insidious.
    Despite the steep uphill battle, the addiction can be overcome. Here are five actions you can take to help you or a loved one quit smoking and enjoy a healthier life:

      1. Focus on how to 'stay quit'

      Finding it hard to permanently quit the cigs? Break down your goal into smaller, more manageable steps.
      The goal should not be to quit smoking; rather, it should be on how to "stay quit," said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, director of the Tobacco Treatment Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
      He said he's had patients who say they've quit many times, but that they've not been able to permanently stop.
        He recommends people break up their larger goal of quitting into smaller goals.
        For example, learn your different triggers that could make you want to smoke. That way, you can be mindful and find solutions for those actions.

        2. Make each time you quit a learning experience

        Most people who smoke quit eight to 12 times, because of the addictiveness of cigarettes, before they successfully quit for good, said Jonathan Bricker, professor in the public health sciences division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle.
        Because relapse is so common, Bricker tells his patients to find a lesson they can take from each experience.
        "People will say things like, 'I learned how powerful these cravings are, or I learned how seeing my friend smoke was a big trigger for me, or I learned that stress in my life was a big trigger,' " Bricker said.
        Patients should approach quitting from the viewpoint that the more things they learn from their relapses, the greater their chance is of quitting permanently, he said.

        3. Use phone lines and apps for support

        Your smartphone can be of assitance -- whether you use it to call a help line or download a stop smoking app.
        Support groups for people who want to quit smoking are dwindling, so Bricker recommended calling a quitting help line to get outside assistance.
        The CDC funds a tobacco cessation hotline,