Experts Available for Great American Smokeout Thursday (Nov. 21)
November 20, 2013
Psychologists can offer tips on successful cessation, and how Chinese meditation can
At any given time, two thirds of all smokers are considering quitting. A quarter will
make a serious attempt each year – many as a New Year’s resolution. But only 7 percent
will be successful in the first try. Texas Tech University’s Lee Cohen, a smoking
cessation expert and clinical psychologist, can explain what smokers should think
about before quitting as well as what makes a successful quitting attempt. Psychology
professor Yi-Yuan Tang can discuss how a certain type of Chinese mindfulness meditation
unexpectedly helped smokers reduce tobacco use even when they didn’t intend to do
Lee Cohen, chairman of the Texas Tech Department of Psychology, (806) 834-2530, firstname.lastname@example.org; Yi-Yuan Tang, Presidential Endowed Chairman in Neuroscience and professor in the
Department of Psychology, (806) 834-8688, Yiyuan.email@example.com
Smoking Cessation Talking Points
- Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.
- Usually, people require a significant reason to make a change to quit smoking, such
as a health reason or becoming a parent or grandparent.
- The exact personality factors that lead to quitting success are not well understood.
- Smokers often don’t succeed in quitting on the first several tries. The average number
of quit attempts is seven before someone is successful.
- Medications can help, but quitters should look at both psychological as well as physical
Meditation Talking Points
- The study looked at the effect of the mindfulness meditation known as Integrative
Body-Mind Training (IBMT) on the pathways in the brain related to addiction and self-control.
- IBMT, which involves whole-body relaxation, mental imagery and mindfulness training
led by a qualified coach, has long been practiced in China.
- Researchers discovered that by practicing the meditation exercise, smokers curtailed
their habit by 60 percent. The control group that received a relaxation regimen instead
showed no reduction in their smoking.
- According to the fMRI results, smokers before entering IBMT had reduced activity in
several parts of their brains that indicate impaired self-control. After two weeks
of IBMT, smokers had significantly increased activity in the self-control areas of
the brain previously impaired. No significant changes were found among smokers in
the non-IBMT control group.
- Many of the participants only recognized they had reduced smoking after an objective
test using measured exhaled carbon monoxide showed the reduction.
- “Quitting any addictive drug is complicated. Quitting smoking is even more so because
it’s a legal drug. It’s associated with so many things. Smokers often wonder, ‘What
am I going to do with all this extra time? How am I going to drink my coffee without
a cigarette? How am I going to eat my meal without a cigarette? It’s part of everything
they do, which makes quitting more difficult.”
- “It’s not unusual for smokers to fail in their quitting attempts on the first several
tries. If you are not successful, keep in mind that you’ve learned something for the
next time you make that quit attempt. It’s important to look at what it was about
previous attempts that led you to fail”
- “It’s standard to offer smokers medication. But medication alone won’t be enough.
It’s not as simple as just slipping on a patch. People should get into a group with
people they can talk to. It’s interesting how someone who tries and fails numerous
times can be very successful when they’re talking to people who understand what they
are going through.”
- “We are currently offering a free 10-week program called MIST to help people who wish
to quit. People can email MIST.firstname.lastname@example.org or call (806) 742-3737 for more information.”
- “IBMT originates from ancient eastern contemplative traditions developed thousands
of years ago in China and Asia because human beings seek to grow themselves.”
- “I started to study its effects in the 1990s and found IBMT can improve attention,
self-control, emotion regulation, cognitive performance, immune function and brain
plasticity. I’m not only the researcher but also a practitioner, which helps me better
understand this phenomenon.
- “I think that – like other ways of changing human behavior, such as exercise and a positive
attitude – meditation is one way to help people calm down, reduce stress and improve
performance and even understanding the meaning of life.”
- “We found that participants who received IBMT training also experienced a significant
decrease in their craving for cigarettes. Because mindfulness meditation promotes
personal control and has been shown to positively affect attention and an openness
to internal and external experiences, we believe that meditation may be helpful for
coping with symptoms of addiction.”