Give up smoking with hypnosis. Acting to stop a dangerous habit.

Smoking is one of the major causes of premature death; in the United States, as stated by a governmental report1, smoking causes about 438.000 deaths every year. Furthermore, along with significantly reducing life expectancy, it constitutes a risk factor for the onsetof severe conditions, such as heart and respiratory diseases, strokes, heart attacks and tumors. It is a widely diffused habit as reported by the World Health Organization, which describes smoking as the greatest threat to health of the European area. Furthermore, despite research reports that 80% of smokers declares of wanting to kick the habit2, only 45% of them actually tries to quit and only 5% autonomously succeedes3.
Despite the fact that hypnosis is one of the oldest methods to quit smoking, it is rarely presented as an option to smokers and only lately research is producing results that allow to highlight its potential.
Scientific literature presents hypnotherapy as a promising technique that is well accepted by the majority of patients4. A study conducted in 20045 involved a group of volunteers who wanted to take part in a hypnotherapy program specifically designed to quit smoking. The program comprised 3 sessions: while during the first one information about the technique and  the consequences of smoking were given and the history of  subjects was collected, during the other two sessions hypnotic techniques were used. A year after the end of treatment, 48% of subjects had quit smoking. This percentage reaches 67% if we only consider subjects who participated to all three sessions.
Similar results were found in a study conducted in 20066 which involved two groups of smokers: while subjects in the first group only received information about smoking and its consequences, participants in the second group took part in a hypnotherapy program which also included a training in self hypnosis. Six months after the end of the treatment, 40% of patients had quit smoking while in the other group nobody did. Furthermore, the mean of daily smoked cigarettes was 3 in the experimental group and 20 in the control group.
Results therefore indicate that hypnosis’ efficacy is comparable or even higher than other kinds of interventions, both pharmacological and behavioral ones7.
In terms of treatment planning, the efficacy of this technique seems to improve when the therapeutic program includes more than one session, when, instead of using standard induction methods, each intervention is tailored on the client and when a close patient-therapist relationship is established8; aspects that have always been considered as fundamental by those who practice Ericksonian Hypnosis.
Hypnosis can also support subjects who are experiencing nicotine withdrawal symptoms, factors that are not always considered in standard programs9. Subjects who quit smoking often report symptoms such as depressed mood, insomnia, irritability, feelings of anger or frustration, difficulties in focusing attention, anxiety, restlessness, increase of hunger and thus of weight10. It must be remembered that smoking offers a distraction from negative emotions; in other words, it is used as self-medication for chronic unpleasantness. Such symptoms, if left untreated, may represent an important obstacle for those who wish to become free from smoking and hypnosis, by offering the chance to act on the causes that evoke certain negative emotions and on the autonomous nervous system, can become a powerful ally. There are several reasons to quit smoking, of medical, economical and social nature. In summary, present research describes hypnosis as a promising technique to definitively kick the habit.

CDC. Annual smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and economic costs---United States, 1997--2001. MMWR 2005;54:625--8.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1990). The health benefits of smoking cessation: a report of the Surgeon General (DHHS Publication No. CDC 90-8416). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Giovino, G.A., Henningfield, J.E., Tomar, S.L., Escobedo, L.G., & Slade, J. (1995). Epidemiology of tobacco use and dependence. Epidemiological Review, 17,48-65. Elkins, G.R. & Wall, V.J. (1996). Medical referrals for hypnotherapy: Opinions of physicians, residents, family practice outpatients and psychiatry outpatients. American journal of clinical hypnosis, 38(4), 254-262. Crasilneck, H.B. (1990). Hypnotic techniques for smoking control and psychogenic impotence. American journal of clinical hypnosis, 32, 147-153. Kikunnen, T. (2001). Integrating hypnosis into a comprehensive smoking cessation intervention: comments on past and present studies. The international journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 49(3), 267-271.
Elkins, G.R. (2004). Clinical hypnosis for smoking cessation: preliminary results of a three-session intervention. The international journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 52(1), 73-81-
Elkins, G.R., Marcus, J., Bates, J. & Rajab, M.H. (2006). Intensive hypnotherapy for smoking cessation: a prospective study. International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 54(3), 303-315.
Holroyd, J. (1980). Hypnosis treatment for smoking: an evaluative review. International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 28, 341-357.
Barber, J. (2000). Freedom from smoking: integrating hypnotic methods and rapid smoking to facilitate smoking cessation. The international journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 49(3), 257-266.