Treatment of smoking (a systematic review)

de Souza, I. C. W., at al. (2015). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for the Treatment of Smoking: A Systematic Literature Review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. From the Abstract. Epub ahead of print.

Objectives: Smoking is a chronic process in which craving and negative affect are considered the main barriers to maintaining abstinence in patients who have gone through treatment. Mindfulness-based interventions have presented encouraging preliminary results in follow-up lasting up to 6 months. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic literature review on the effects of mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of smoking.

Methods: Of 198 articles on mindfulness and smoking, 13 controlled empirical studies were selected for the analysis. … All articles reported promising results, especially for smoking cessation, relapse prevention, number of cigarettes smoked, the moderation of mindfulness on the strength of relationship between craving and smoking, and the development of coping strategies to deal with triggers to smoke.

Conclusions: Mindfulness appears to induce positive effects on mental health, which might contribute to the maintenance of tobacco abstinence. Despite the promising results regarding the responses of tobacco smokers to mindfulness-based interventions, additional well-designed clinical studies are needed.

Improves self-control capacity and reduces smoking

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.