Study Results

In recent years, a considerable body of scientific evidence has been accumulated that demonstrates the effectiveness of hypnotherapy techniques in smoking cessation. On this page, we present a few excerpts from ““Smoking Cessation and Hypnosis,” a comparative review of the effectiveness of hypnosis, an advanced method of hypnosis, and other interventions used for the cessation of smoking, by Michael O' Driscoll B.Sc., M.Sc. (Oxon)

This paper presents some of the findings from a study looking at all methods of smoking cessation, including standard hypnotherapy techniques and compares those to a specially developed advanced method of hypnotherapy for smoking cessation.

A larger meta-analysis of research into hypnosis to aid smoking cessation (Chockalingam and Schmidt 1992) (48 studies, 6,020 subjects) found that the average quit rate for those using hypnosis was 36%, making hypnosis the most effective method found in this review with the exception of a program which encouraged pulmonary and cardiac patients to quit smoking using advice from their doctor (such subjects are obviously atypical as they have life-threatening illnesses which are aggravated by smoking and therefore these people have very strong incentives to quit).

Table 1. Effectiveness of different types of intervention to achieve smoking cessation adapted from data in Chockalingam and Schmidt (1992)

From data in Chockalingam and Schmidt (1992)

Type of intervention

% who quit smoking

no. of subjects

no. of trials

Advice (cardiac patients) 42 4553 34
Hypnosis 36 6020 48
Miscellaneous 35 1400 10
Advice (pulmonary patients) 34 1661 17
Smoke aversion 31 2557 103
Group withdrawal clinics 30 11580 46
Acupuncture 30 2992 19
Instructional methods in workplace 30 976 13
Other aversive techniques 27 3926 178
5 day plans 26 7828 25
Aversive methods in 25 1041 26
Educational (health promotion initiatives) 24 3352 27
Medication 18 6810 29
Physician interventions (more than advice) 18 3486 16
Nicotine chewing gum 16 4866 40
Self-care (self-help) 15 3585 24
Physician advice 7 7190 17

Law and Tang (1995) looked at 10 randomized trials, carried out between 1975 and 1988, of hypnosis in smoking cessation. They found that the effect of hypnosis was highly statistically significant. The research they examined involved 646 subjects and cessation rates at 6 months post-treatment ranged from 10% to 38% (the average figure was 24%).

Table 2. Effectiveness of different types of intervention to achieve smoking cessation (adapted from data in Law and Tang 1995)

Type of intervention

% who quit smoking

no. of subjects

no. of trials

Supportive group session (heart attack survivors) 36 223 1
Hypnosis 24 646 10
Supportive group session (healthy men in high risk for heart attack group) 21 13205 4
Nicotine patch (self-referral) 13 2020 10
Nicotine gum (self-referral 11 3460 13
Supportive group session (in pregnancy) 8 4738 10
Advice from GP (additional sessions) 5 6466 10
Gradual reduction in smoking 5 630 8
Nicotine patch (GP initiated treatment) 4 2597 4
Nicotine gum (GP initiated treatment) 3 7146 15
Acupuncture 3 2759 8
Advice from GP (one-off) 2 14438 17
Supportive group session 2 2059 8
Advice from nurses in health promotion clinics 1 3369 2

Table 2 (above) shows that the meta-analysis of Law and Tang confirms, to a large extent, the meta-analysis of Chockalingam and Schmidt (1992); in both cases hypnosis appears as the most effective form of intervention to achieve smoking cessation with the exception of groups who are highly motivated to quit for medical reasons, such as those with existing heart or pulmonary problems.

Tailored Hypnosis—Taking It to the Next Level

Nuland and Field (1970) found an improvement rate of 60% in treating smokers with hypnosis. The increased effectiveness was achieved by a more personalized approach, including feedback (under hypnosis) of the client's own personal reasons for quitting. These researchers also employed a technique of having the client maintain contact by telephone between treatments and utilized self-hypnosis in addition.

A study by Von Dedenroth has the highest quoted success rate for hypnosis in achieving smoking cessation which has been reported in the literature to date; Von Dedenroth found that his use of hypnosis enabled 94% of 1000 subjects to stop smoking (when checked at 18 months).

Practice Builders Study (2000). This research, conducted using Smoke Free International’s proprietary method, is relevant to our Stop Smoking in One Hour method. It was carried out on 300 subjects (beginning in January 2000 and continuing until March 2002) who responded to an advertisement. A 'blind trial' technique was used—subjects were not aware that they were taking part in a research project although they all ticked a box on their intake forms saying that they understood that the hypnotist's methods were always being measured tested and improved, and that results would be collated and studied.

No respondents had previous experience of hypnosis—51% of subjects had tried nicotine patches, 14% had tried nicotine gum, 7% had tried acupuncture, 6% had tried using a nicotine inhaler and 30% had previously tried to quit using will-power alone. 11% of subjects had not previously tried to quit smoking.

Quit rates were established thorough telephone interviews 1 month and 6 months after the first session of treatment.

After 1 session 95% of those who received 'advanced therapy' had quit smoking. The remaining 5% received a second session of treatment leading to a further 1.3% of the group quitting smoking. In total therefore, at 6 months, 97% of those who received 'advanced therapy' had quit smoking.

Of those who received 'standard therapy' 51% quit smoking after one session and a further 6% quit after a second session—a total of 57% had quit smoking at 6 months.

Those who were still smoking at 6 months did not differ from those who had successfully quit in terms of gender, age or therapies previously tried. These results mean that for both standard treatments and the 'advanced treatment' quit rates are extraordinarily high and well above what has hitherto been reported in the literature. Results for both treatments were significant at the 0.001 level (chi-square).

Outcomes for the 'advanced therapy' are considerably higher than any findings previously reported in the literature. In addition, the success rate achieved using the standard technique was considerably higher than expected and this may be due to the fact that the elements that the standard treatment and 'advanced treatment' have in common (price, waiting period for the session, advertising exposure, and pre-talk etc.) have powerful effects on outcomes.

A brief bibliography for further reading:

Public health focus: effectiveness of smoking-control strategies-United States (1992). MMWR Morb.Mortal.Wklv.Rep. 41. 645-7, 653.

Abbot, N. C, Stead, L. F., White, A. R., Barnes, J., & Ernst, E. (2000). Hypnotherapy for Smoking Cessation. Cochrane. Data base. Syst. Rev. CD001008.

Agee, L. L. (1983). Treatment procedures using hypnosis in smoking cessation programs: a review of the literature. J.Am.Soc.Psychosom.Dent.Med., 30, 111-126.

Ahijevych, K., Yerardi, R., & Nedilsky, N. (2000). Descriptive outcomes of the American Lung Association of Ohio hypnotherapy smoking cessation program. Int.J.CIin.Exp.HvDn.. 48. 374-387.

Baer, L., Carey, R. J., Jr., & Meminger, S. R. (1986). Hypnosis for smoking cessation: a clinical follow-up. Int.J.Psychosom., 33, 13-16.

Barber, J. (2001). Freedom from smoking: integrating hypnotic methods and rapid smoking to facilitate smoking cessation. Int.J.CIin.Exp.Hypn., 49, 257-266.

Bayot, A., Capafons, A., & Cardena, E. (1997). Emotional self-regulation therapy: a new and efficacious treatment for smoking. Am.J.CIin.Hypn., 40, 146-156.

Bello, S. (1991). [Treatment of smoking]. Rev.Med.Chil.. 119, 701-708.