Tang, Y. Y., Tang, R., & Posner, M. I. (2013). Brief meditation training induces smoking reduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Epub before print, August 5, full text.
More than 5 million deaths a year are attributable to tobacco smoking, but attempts to help people either quit or reduce their smoking often fail, perhaps in part because the intention to quit activates brain networks related to craving.
We recruited participants interested in general stress reduction and randomly assigned them to meditation training or a relaxation training control. Among smokers, 2 weeks of meditation training (5 hours in total) produced a significant reduction in smoking of 60%; no reduction was found in the relaxation control. Resting-state brain scans showed increased activity for the meditation group in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex, brain areas related to self-control. These results suggest that brief meditation training improves self-control capacity and reduces smoking.