With all the life-threatening effects of smoking, why can't smokers just stop? Dr. Daniel Seidman, a leading expert on smoking addiction at Columbia University Medical Center, says people have conflicting thoughts about quitting. "You have the smart brain that's cultured and educated and understands that [smoking is] going to hurt your family and hurt your body," he says. "Then, you have the old reptilian brain that wants what it wants when it wants it. You're at war with yourself."
To end the war, Dr. Seidman says you must "wave the white flag" and admit you need help in ending your addiction. "Smokers are not all the same. Some people can quit on their own and relatively easily, and some people will say it's the hardest thing they ever did. So they need the tools, and they need to make the effort," he says. "It's not just about the motivation—they have to make a commitment. They have to make the effort and need some guidance and outside help to be successful with it."
Once you've made the decision to live a smoke-free life, Dr. Oz, Dr. Seidman and Dr. Michael Roizen suggest following a four-step plan.
Step 1: Face the truth.
Take the quiz to determine what kind of smoker you are. Dr. Oz says learning how out of control you really are is an important realization. "Once you realize you're out of control, it helps you build your commitment and be willing to make the effort so you're not smoking at all," he says. "If you're smoking a little bit, that cigarette's going to make you want to have the next cigarette, and it's not going to go well."