Stop Smoking: Research into the Smoking Cessation Conspiracyby Steve Burns
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2009 there were 2,878 drug-related deaths ain the UK. Currently if you are caught selling a Class A drug you will almost certainly receive a custodial sentence.
Now let's compare that to cigarettes. It is estimated that over 10 million British adults smoke. Shockingly, over half of these people will die from a smoking-related disease; that's over 100,000 deaths a year as a direct result of smoking.
From these facts alone it is clear that smoking has a far greater impact on society than illegal drugs, yet no-one is sent to prison for the supply of cigarettes and tobacco products that are sold legally under a licence provided by the UK Government.
So does the Government really want us to stop smoking?
If the answer to this question is an unequivocal 'yes', surely the UK Government would define and implement a far more rigorous and ultimately successful smoking cessation strategy? Surely it would do far more to help the 63 per cent of smokers who want to quit?
Smoking cessation has apparently been high on successive Government's list of priorities. This has been the justification for the extortionate increases in tobacco taxes and therefore the cost of cigarettes to the consumer. Yet evidently, people will continue to buy cigarettes whatever the financial cost, because the huge prices increases have had little, if any impact on demand.
Beyond increasing taxes on tobacco, the Government would have us believe it is doing much to aid those desperate to quit. Action on Smoking and Health notes that they spend £83.9 million on services and £61.8 million on medication to help people stop.
Indeed, several recent initiatives have been put into place to reduce the appeal and convenience of smoking. Advertising has been banned, health warnings have been emphasised via enlarged 'smoking kills' labelling and it is now illegal to smoke in public places.
The idea of selling tobacco products in plain wrapping with nothing but a health warning was proposed, but according to the British press, its reception was apparently 'lukewarm'. Moreover, the ban on displaying tobacco products in newsagents and supermarkets has been delayed. Apparently there isn't enough evidence to prove that either of these initiatives would make any difference to the number of people choosing to smoke.
Meanwhile, the public remains exposed to tobacco advertising through sponsorship of sporting event - promoting an almost 'healthy' image.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
The Government is keen to promote the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy as its primary means to help people stop smoking. The public can send off for free NHS 'Quit Kits', subsidised by the Government. Included in these kits are starter Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches.
However, a complete lack of empirical evidence or published success rates means it's hard to determine the effectiveness of NRT. Although the vast majority of the drugs sold by pharmacies have undergone extensive clinical trials - a necessity for their license under The British Medical Association - NRT has not.
Consider that - an industry reported to be worth over $1.5billion worldwide has not invested in clinical trials to confirm the effectiveness of its approach to smoking cessation. Instead, the marketing of NRT products emphasises a reliance on willpower. The suggestion therefore is that Nicotine Replacement Therapy simply does not work.
There has been independent research that seems to confirm this suggestion. Research by the University of Birmingham, published in the British Medical Journal, found that only 6.75 per cent of those using NRT to quit had done so within six months - which implies that a massive 93.25 per cent had failed.
In an article published in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Dr Reuven Dar of Tel Aviv University carried out two studies which indicated smoking was a case of "mind over matter" - that the "intensity of cravings for cigarettes had more to do with the psychosocial element of smoking than with the physiological effects of nicotine as an addictive chemical."
This is the opinion of Chris Holmes, author of Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was, who believes smoking is a compulsive habit, not a drug addiction; and that the promotion of NRT is a manipulation technique used to make money for pharmaceutical companies, while ensuring quitters fail and revert back to revenue-generating tobacco.
Holmes and Dar believe the key to quitting is to understand smoking as a habit, not an addiction; emphasising that behavioural characteristics need to change, not biological ones. ONS statistics found that only 12 per cent of quitters who reverted back to smoking did so because they "had cravings."
A view that some professionals have been championing for years is the suggestion that smokers' cravings are not associated with nicotine at all. As smoking-cessation.org says, anyone trying to quit "should also make a concerted effort to change their behaviour patterns." Many patients have tried -and failed - to quit using NRT because it doesn't address behaviour.
Under that premise, if nicotine addiction is not the main barrier against smoking cessation, clearly NRT cannot succeed - so why is the Government so keen to promote it? Your guess is as good as ours.
Stop Smoking Hypnosis
Various studies laud the effectiveness of hypnosis in smoking cessation. The largest ever study was conducted by University of Iowa, which combined the results from more than 600 studies covering over 70,000 smokers from across America and Europe to compare various methods of quitting. On average, hypnosis proved to be over three times as effective as nicotine replacement methods and 15 times more effective than trying to quit alone.
The study was published in an article by Robert Matthews in New Scientist in 1992. Entitled How One in Five Have Given up Smoking, Matthews writes: "Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking."
In 2007, a study by the North Shore Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital found that hospitalised patients were more likely to quit through use of hypnotherapy than any other method. Another study undertaken by the University of Washington's School of Medicine reported a 90.6% success rate for smoking cessation using hypnosis.
So there is an increasingly authoritative body of evidence that suggests hypnotherapy is the single most effective method to help smokers quit.
Through hypnotherapy, the unconscious mind can become a powerful aid in helping smokers to change their smoking-related beliefs, whilst also modifying specific habits and behaviours, and nullifying withdrawal symptoms.
With hypnotherapy, a smoker can feel walk away from their toxic habit feeling liberated and free, exhilarated by the ease with which they have quit. Techniques focus on retraining the unconscious mind to dismiss any self-limiting and negative beliefs about quitting, whilst helping to boost self-confidence and self-esteem.
This is somewhat at odds with Government-sponsored smoking cessation advertising. A recent NHS campaign depicted smokers with huge symbolic hooks through their cheeks, portrayed as defeated, ill and dejected. The images were extremely negative and uninspiring. No one element from that ad campaign would make a smoker believe they could give up; rather it just gives the impression that they are 'hooked'. It was almost as if it was marketed in a way that subliminally reinforced failure. Then there is the nicotine monster increasingly seen in television adverts; promoting various forms of NRT and depicting the image that nicotine is coming to get you!
The biggest advantage of hypnosis is that it is a safe way to give up smoking without any side effects and can be used by anyone, no matter the state of their health. Most of all, it's nicotine-free.
In 2009, 1,492,239 people were admitted to hospital with smoking-related illnesses, at a cost of £2.7 million to the NHS and over 100,000 smokers died as a direct result of their smoking.
The Government's primary smoking cessation strategy is nicotine replacement therapy, yet it is unproven and expensive.
Hypnotherapy is clinically proven to be effective; yet the Government seems unwilling to engage with the industry to help the 63 per cent of smokers who want to quit. Why?