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Mindfulness Training Helps Smokers Quit

Reluctant smokers, get your tablets and smartphones ready. If you’re trying to quit the habit, Craving to Quit is a new app from goBlue Labs, a company founded by Dr. Judson Brewer, the medical director of the Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic. The app costs $49.99, which sounds a little expensive for an app, unless you think of that as four to five packs of cigarettes. It’s also the work of years of neuroscience research into cravings, seeing how the posterior cingulate cortext, a region of the brain is activated by cravings, and what happens to it when a craving goes away. Craving to Quit uses mindfulness meditation to help people stop smoking. Mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhist traditions, and proved to be effective in a study Dr. Brewer conducted in 2009.

In the four-week study, 88 smokers, averaging around 46 years of age, used either mindfulness training or the Freedom From Smoking program (FFS) from the American Lung Association. At the end of the study, only 15 percent of the FFS group had quit smoking, compared with 36 percent quitters from the mindfulness meditation group.

Why does mindfulness work? Getting the technique down can be challenging, but once you do, it makes quitting smoking less difficult, because many people smoke out of boredom, needing something to do with their hands or mouth to keep themselves occupied or focused. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention, non-judgmentally, to the present moment, so when you practice it on a craving, you let yourself feel the craving, but pay it no attention. Eventually the craving will subside, like the screams of a young child who has tired himself out. By focusing on the act of smoking, it forces smokers to come to terms with what they’re actually doing, instead of being passive about it, or in denial.

Based on the success of the app with individual users, Brewer hopes that it will eventually be used by corporate wellness programs, health insurance companies, and hospitals.

Read the entire article here: Yale doctor’s mindfulness training research helps smokers quit