It's been six-plus years since North Carolina legislators banned smoking in public places like bars and restaurants. But more than 20 percent of NC residents are still smoking -- higher than the national rate of 18 percent. So many smokers want to quit but just can’t seem to beat the addiction.
Every day, scientists like Duke clinical psychologist Joseph McClernon, Ph.D., are working on ways to help them quit and live healthier lives.
McClernon grew up in the 1970s in the Ozarks of southern Missouri. While there were some smokers in his extended family, he grew up in a nonsmoking household. Still, it was a time when people smoked not just in restaurants but nearly everywhere, he said. He smoked his first cigarette at age 17, and at one time was a pack-a-day smoker.
Here, McClernon recounts his own experience, explains why it's so hard to quit, and offers advice on how to get help.