Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation

  • Review
  • Intervention




Hypnotherapy is widely promoted as a method for aiding smoking cessation. It is proposed to act on underlying impulses to weaken the desire to smoke or strengthen the will to stop.


The objective of this review was to evaluate the effects of hypnotherapy for smoking cessation.

Search strategy

We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register and the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, SCI, SSCI and CISCOM using the terms smoking cessation and hypnotherapy or hypnosis in February 2005.

Selection criteria

We considered randomized trials of hypnotherapy which reported smoking cessation rates at least six months after the beginning of treatment.

Data collection and analysis

Two authors extracted data on the type of subjects, the type and duration of the hypnotherapy, the nature of the control group,the outcome measures, method of randomization, and completeness of follow up.

The main outcome measure was abstinence from smoking after at least six months follow up in patients smoking at baseline. We used the most rigorous definition of abstinence in each trial, and biochemically validated rates where available. Those lost to follow up were counted as smokers. Where possible, we performed meta-analysis using a fixed-effect model.

Main results

Nine studies compared hypnotherapy with 14 different control interventions.

There was significant heterogeneity between the results of the individual studies, with conflicting results for the effectiveness of hypnotherapy compared to no treatment or to advice. We therefore did not attempt to calculate pooled odds ratios for the overall effect of hypnotherapy. There was no evidence of an effect of hypnotherapy compared to rapid smoking or psychological treatment.

Authors' conclusions

We have not shown that hypnotherapy has a greater effect on six month quit rates than other interventions or no treatment.

The effects of hypnotherapy on smoking cessation claimed by uncontrolled studies were not confirmed by analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Plain language summary

Does hypnotherapy help people who are trying to stop smoking

Different types of hypnotherapy are used to try and help people quit smoking. Some methods try to weaken people's desire to smoke, strengthen their will to quit, or help them concentrate on a quit programme. The review of trials did not find enough good evidence to show whether or not hypnotherapy can help people trying to quit smoking.