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Opinion: Quitting smoking is hard. Mindfulness hacks the habit loop, offering a new approach

Smoking hijacks the brain's reward-based learning system. Each time a smoker smokes, it reinforces a brain pathway that says, "This is great, do it again." Mindfulness techniques can break the…
Source: PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Smoking kills.

The science behind that stone-cold statement has been indisputable for decades. Yet smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world.

Given all that we know about smoking, why do people have so much trouble quitting? As an addiction psychiatrist and neuroscientist, it’s a question I frequently get from my patients and acquaintances. The two-part answer I give them is simple: Quitting is hard, and most people go

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