The Haaretz newspaper sent 32 heavy smokers to stop smoking, using 7 different methods. Here are the results:
From: Daphna Lutzky and Dana Ofer
Results of the Haaretz newspaper examination
Method for giving up smoking
Number of participants sent
Number who had stopped after a month
Success rates after one month
Number who had stopped after a year
Success rates after one year
Abrahamson Clinic – nicotine addiction program
Dai Leishun injection
Acupuncture – Hermon Man Clinic
The Center for Tobacco and Food Weaning
Anti Smoke Spray, Haderech Hativit
Chinese acupuncture – Maccabi Healthcare Services
The facts are well-known: smoking damages your health. Four million people around the world die every single year as the result of damage from smoking, but, despite this, most smokers are unsuccessful in weaning themselves off this dangerous habit. While the rate of smokers has decreased in Israel in recent decades, and is now 28% as compared to 42% in the early 1980s, this decrease has halted over the last eight years. In Israel alone, 10,000 people die annually from smoking-related damage, and the country is ranked ninth in the Western world for rates of young people smoking. The World Health Organization even defined smoking as the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the world.
Why should I stop?
The battle against smoking officially began in 1965, with the publication of the Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States, in which the dangers of smoking, and the illness and death which it causes were listed for the first time. Since then, many studies have been published proving the link between smoking and various illnesses, some of which are fatal: lung and laryngeal cancers, heart and respiratory diseases.
According to the figures published by Israel Cancer Association, 85% of impotence is caused by smoking. The risk of having a heart attack under the age of 40 is five times greater among smokers, and the risk of fertility problems for women smokers is 60% greater than that of female non-smokers. The combination of the contraceptive pill and smoking can increase the risks for heart disease for women.
As well as diseases, say the experts, smoking causes damage to facial skin, causing wrinkles and nicotine stains. For all of those who aren’t frightened by these risks, the experts promise far healthier lives to those who stop: a year after quitting smoking, the risk of heart disease decreases by 50%, and within 15 years the risk of the former smoker dying from heart disease is similar to that of someone who never smoked. The risk of stroke, lung cancer and chronic lung disease also falls, although at a slower rate. The number of those weaned (who took one 300mg pill daily for 7 days) was 23.1% after one year.
Seven methods, 32 participants
Seven methods which claim they can help give up smoking were tested for this article. Each of the methods was tested by 4-5 smokers who wanted to stop smoking, with a total of 32 people participating in the study (15 women and 17 men). The participants were aged 25 – 60 and had been smoking for periods of at least 7 years, at least 10 cigarettes daily (most, far more). All the testers paid only a token fee for their treatment, unconnected to the actual price, so as to create an equal basis for comparing the results. In some of the cases the rest of the price was paid by the service providers themselves. We attempted to interfere as little as possible in the process, and to allow the test participants to act according to their own considerations, as would have happened in a “real” situation. To track the weaning process, we compiled questionnaires which were divided into three sections, according to the stage of giving up smoking: before treatment began, a month after it, and a year later. It is imperative to note that the testers are not a representative sample, and that the study has no scientific validity: a medical study like this must include at least 100 subjects for each method, as well as groups.
The Payment Component
The various addiction treatments are usually very expensive ($100.00 – 500.00). Like the various fitness clubs and dieting workshops, it seems that in this area, too, the high cost is another incentive to keep going, meaning, someone who hasn’t paid for the treatment might make less of an effort and be less strict about obeying the instructions. We wanted to neutralize the payment component in this study, so as to create a common denominator which would allow for comparison. However, it is clear that in real situations, the price plays an important role. We can see from the answers of most of the participants that the lower-than-usual cost was an important factor in the decision to participate in the study. However, the vast majority of participants reported that the results would not have changed even if they would have had to pay the full price, and that the commitment to the process wasn’t impaired by the token fee.
Fourteen participants out of the 32 managed to stop smoking for over a month. Nine of them report not smoking a year later. Five others began smoking again after several months. All the other participants began smoking again, usually using the same number of cigarettes that they had smoked before the treatment.
With every method, including those which promise treatment and reduction of side-effects from stopping, at least one participant reported severe side-effects: tension, irritability, depression, increased appetite. It is interesting to discover that the participants who were successful in quitting do not, usually, attribute their success to the method of quitting, but to their own willpower; whereas those who failed usually laid the blame on the method and not on themselves. We can say, in general, that quick methods which didn’t demand great activity on the part of the participants were preferred, and, usually had a greater number of successes.
So, for example, although there were two different treatments using the same method – Chinese acupuncture – the short, intensive treatment was preferred and more successful among the participants. Surprisingly, we found no link between the participant’s previous faith in the treatment’s effectiveness and the results: some of the participants, who were extremely sceptical of the effectiveness of the treatment they tried, were weaned. Others, who believed in its effectiveness, did not stop smoking. The person who succeeded in stopping said that the method was only a lever to success, and that he hadn’t stopped smoking because of it. However, there were participants who were also sceptical about other methods of quitting smoking, and said that, “the willpower component is the most important”.
The Abrahamson Clinic – 100% success after a month, all five participants succeeded! A year later, examination of the participants showed an 80% success rate. Four out of five participants succeeded for an entire year.
For giving up smoking using a natural method – The Abrahamson Center: The fee of $540 can be paid in six equal payments of $90: the price includes unconditional, unlimited further treatments as required.
Explanation: according to Ehud Abrahamson, the treatment includes “energy treatment of the body’s aura”. The treatment begins after a detailed explanation of the method, and the person treated is awake and aware of everything going on around him/her throughout the treatment, which includes energy detoxification and treatment with crystals. About 20% return for a further treatment to stop smoking, usually those whose spouse smokes. Eighty percent of participants succeed in quitting. Those treated are asked to drink plenty of water and refrain from being in a smoking environment. They are also asked to contact the clinic if they feel the urge to smoke, to receive another treatment (Telephone: 09-7469725 or *9933).
Number of participants: 5
Number who had given up smoking after a month: 5
Number who had given up smoking after a year: 4
All five participants stopped smoking. One began again after several months. Most of the participants noted that they had been impressed with the professionalism of the person treating them, and all noted with approval that they hadn’t been required to believe in the method’s effectiveness. They were also impressed by the treatment’s lack of invasiveness, and that it only lasted for one session. “I believe this is a clever marketing strategy,” said one participant, “in which the person carrying out the treatment projects the feeling that despite the patient’s passivity, the method works.” All the participants noted at the beginning of the study, that they would not have come to do this kind treatment for nicotine addiction independently, due to its high cost. However, afterwards they claimed that the fact that they had paid a token fee had not harmed their motivation to stop smoking. Ehud Abrahamson responds: “The results testify to the method’s effectiveness. What a shame that the participant who began smoking again after several months did not come back to us for a further session. The clinic gives a guarantee for a year, in which everyone who was treated is eligible for further treatments without cost.”