Acupuncture and hypnotherapy are often advertised as successful aids to smoking cessation. Anecdotally, some practitioners are enthusiastic advocates for one or both alternative treatments, though there is currently no evidence to support either approach.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy based on using needles to stimulate particular points in the body. It has been the subject of a number of controlled studies, and two meta-analyses have reviewed these results. These reviews found that there was no consistent evidence that acupuncture or related techniques increased the number of people who could successfully quit smoking. In particular there was no difference in cessation in studies that compared active acupuncture with inactive acupuncture. The reviewers said that methodological problems meant that no firm conclusions could be drawn from their study and that further research was needed in this area.
The overall quality of the studies analysed was considered poor by the reviewers. The combined odds ratio for smoking cessation after six months was 1.29 and after 12 months was 1.03.
There are many different types of hypnotherapy; some try to weaken people's desire to smoke, strengthen their will to quit or help them concentrate on a quit programme. Although some uncontrolled studies have claimed benefit, a Cochrane systematic review concluded that, in controlled trials, hypnotherapy does not show a greater effect on six-month quit rates than no treatment.