According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2014 report “The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 years of Progress,” there are more than 16 million Americans living with diseases caused by smoking and it is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year. Nearly two out of three smokers want to quit, and about half of adult smokers attempt to quit each year. Most of the attempts to quit smoking are unsuccessful, but getting help through cessation advice by health care providers; individual, group, and telephone counseling; and cessation medications have been shown to be effective.
Recently, there has been emerging interest in the use of complementary therapies such as hypnotherapy, yoga, or mindfulness meditation to aid in smoking cessation. To date, several of these interventions have shown some promise in preliminary, non-randomized studies, but there is not enough evidence to establish if mind-body practices are as efficacious as other evidence-based smoking cessation treatments. The natural product cytisine, primarily used in Central and Eastern European countries for smoking cessation, is not currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but has been shown to be effective in helping smokers quit. Complementary therapies can be part of a comprehensive tobacco cessation treatment plan that includes behavioral modifications, and may include pharmaceuticals to decrease cravings, group therapy, or counseling.
This issue of the digest highlights the evidence of several complementary health approaches for smoking cessation.
Modality and Summary of Current Research
To date, there have been a few randomized studies on mindfulness-based interventions for smoking cessation, and while the findings are promising, there are not enough data to know whether mind-body practices are as efficacious as other more established smoking cessation treatments.
There is some evidence to suggest that hypnotherapy may improve smoking cessation, but data are not definitive.
Only a few studies have been conducted on the effects of yoga for smoking cessation. Although preliminary results have been positive, larger, high-quality studies are needed to determine rigorously if yoga is an effective treatment.
Only a few high-quality studies on acupuncture for smoking cessation have been conducted, so firm conclusions about its effectiveness cannot be drawn.
To date, only a few studies have examined the effects of tai chi for smoking cessation, so there aren’t enough data to draw conclusions about its effectiveness.
The natural product cytisine, primarily used in Central and Eastern European countries for smoking cessation, is not currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but has been shown to be effective in helping smokers quit.