Despite the existence of effective medications for smoking cessation, approximately 50-80% of smokers attempt to quit without using pharmacotherapy.1-4 Efforts to encourage medication use during cessation attempts have met with mixed success.20-23 Many do not use medications because of concerns about side effects, contraindications that make medication use inappropriate, and individual preferences for chemical-free quit attempts. This leaves many smokers seeking an effective alternative to assist them in attempting to quit smoking.5-6 Each year, over 41% of smokers report failed attempts to quit smoking.18 Thus, effective non- pharmacological interventions to increase rates of successful cessation are greatly needed. Our research, and the research of other investigators, has demonstrated that traditional (Western) exercise (e.g., brisk walking, bicycling) improves smokers'ability to successfully quit. Exercise may help smokers quit by reducing concerns regarding post-cessation weight gain,7-8 and by reducing nicotine withdrawal and enhancing mood.9 Recent research suggests that yoga is an acceptable and potentially effective alternative therapy for smoking cessation for several reasons: As a form of exercise, yoga shares many of the same properties as traditional (Western) aerobic exercise in that yoga has been shown to improve mood, physical fitness, weight control, self-image and quality of life in healthy and ill populations.10-13 Moreover, features of yoga, including a focus on breathing, mental concentration, meditation, stress reduction and enhanced mood are likely to have special relevance for smokers who are trying to quit.14-15 Thus, yoga may be particularly attractive as an alternative for individuals who either cannot use medications, or who choose not to use medications while quitting. The proposed study will test the efficacy of Yoga as a complementary therapy for smoking cessation using a randomized, controlled study design. Adult smokers will be randomly assigned to either;1) Yoga, or 2) an equal contact time Control group (CTL) given a health &wellness program to control for contact time. All participants will be provided (separately by treatment group assignment) with the same cognitive-behavioral Smoking Cessation Counseling (SCC). Smoking abstinence will be measured at the end of treatment (week 10) and at 3, 6 and 12 months follow-up. We hypothesize that abstinence will be significantly higher in the SCC+Yoga group compared to SCC+CTL. We will also test theoretically posited mediators of intervention efficacy (e.g., perceived stress, cognitive/perceptual changes), examine the cost-efficacy of the yoga intervention, and examine the relationship between maintenance of yoga practice during the post-treatment period and smoking status. This study builds on our programmatic line of research developing innovative, theory-driven smoking cessation therapies.

Public Health Relevance

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S., and the greatest preventable cause of heart disease and cancer. Although efficacious, the vast majority of smokers do not use medications when quitting smoking. This study will establish the efficacy of yoga as an alternative therapy for tobacco cessation that will appeal to those who either cannot or choose not to use medications while quitting smoking.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Research Project (R01)
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Risk, Prevention and Intervention for Addictions Study Section (RPIA)
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Huntley, Kristen V
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Miriam Hospital
United States
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