National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

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Quitting Smoking

Almost 70 percent of adult smokers want to quit smoking, according to a U.S. national survey. Conventional quit-smoking treatments, including counseling and medication, can double or triple the chances that a smoker will quit successfully. Some people also try complementary health approaches to help them kick the smoking habit. In one survey of people who visited a tobacco cessation clinic, two-thirds said that they were interested in trying complementary approaches.

Bottom Line

  • Current evidence suggests that some mind and body practices—such as meditation-based therapies, yoga, and guided imagery (a relaxation technique)—may help people quit smoking.
  • Systematic reviews have concluded that there isn’t convincing evidence that acupuncture or hypnosis is helpful for quitting smoking.
  • There is no current evidence that any dietary supplement helps people quit smoking. Studies of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), lobeline (from the herb Lobelia inflata), and St. John’s wort didn’t find any of these supplements to be helpful.

Safety

  • The mind and body practices discussed above are generally considered safe for healthy people when they’re performed appropriately. If you have any health problems, talk with both your health care provider and the complementary health practitioner/instructor before starting to use a mind and body practice.
  • If you’re considering a dietary supplement, remember that “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.” Some supplements may have side effects, and some may interact with drugs or other supplements. In particular, St. John’s wort has been shown to interact with many drugs.

For more information on quitting smoking, visit smokefree.gov, the National Cancer Institute’s quit-smoking resource.

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