Seeking holistic methods to quit smoking? Don’t read the Times

In addition to being the month we try to lose weight, exercise more, and be nicer to our family, January is also the banner month when smokers try to kick the habit. (Forty-five million Americans are still puffing away.) A recent New York Times article was devoted to the best, and most cost effective, ways to give up cancer sticks. As it often does, the Times dismissed alternative, holistic methods in one quick swipe: “BEWARE THE UNPROVEN… [t]here is little hard clinical data to suggest that either acupuncture or hypnosis is an effective way to help quit smoking…” The Times seems not to care or notice that thousands of New Yorkers prefer alternative medicine to nicotine drug products and find them effective.

So Well+Good interviewed acupuncturist Roberta Mittman and hypnotist Jeffrey Rose to discuss success rates and methodology. Both practitioners see an uptick in smoking cessation clients this time of year—smokers comprise 20% of Mittman’s practice and 30% of Rose’s. And both use their chosen technique in conjunction with a thorough lifestyle evaluation. “We discuss everything from medical history to why they’ve decided to quit, their mindset when smoking (i.e. what are their triggers) and their sugar and caffeine consumption,” says Mittman, the acupuncturist. Rose explains his holistic approach, “We start by having a long conversation about their diet, sleep patters, exercise routine, alcohol consumption….I want to learn everything I can about them so I can help them be more resourceful in rejecting cigarettes.”

While we found their self-reported success rates a tad eyebrow raising, we think the Times needs to reconsider its knee-jerk disapproval of methods that clearly many find effective. What you need to know before you go:

Acupuncturist Roberta Mittman

How often and how much: Mittman sees most clients twice and charges $499 for the two-session package
Success rate: Roughly 90% are smoke-free after six months
How it works: At the first 90-minute appointment a thorough medical history is followed by a discussion of smoking habits with lots of strategizing about replacing triggers and smoking rituals with other satisfying habits. “I give my patients a total lifestyle makeover,” says Mittman. Then Mittman gets out her needles. She use super thin Japanese needles—“they don’t need to hurt to work”—and she places five in each ear and 8-10 around the body. (Mittman’s father, a pioneering MD and acupuncturist, actually taught his daughter his smoking cessation acupuncture secrets; in fact, Mittman Senior cured his own daughter of a serious smoking habit.) The needles come out after 30 minutes and Mittman offers herbs and homeopathic remedies to ease cigarette urges. Finally, she sends patients home with “acupuncture to go”—tiny, practically invisible, press-on titanium balls on the ears that the patient can remove in three days. A 45-minute follow-up appointment a few days later serves as a troubleshooting session.
Contact info: Roberta Mittman, 40 Park Avenue (at 36th St.), 212-686-0939,

Hypnotist Jeffrey Rose

How often and how much: $450 for one two-hour appointment
Success rate: 75% are smoke-free after six months
How it works: Forget every schlocky hypnotism stage show you’ve ever seen. Hypnotism is essentially a narrowing of your attention, and it can never make you do anything against your will, explains Rose. After a lifestyle discussion, you watch a 25-minute hypnotic video, almost like a mini-session, that introduces a future aversion to cigarettes. Then Rose himself hypnotizes you: you relax while he encourages you to imagine healthy, smoke-free years ahead. This positive suggestion helps create new thought patterns and habits. Then he has you visualize someone else smoking and think about how disgusting it is. “In hypnosis I am teaching their subconscious that smoking, though pleasurable, is extremely unhealthy and stupid. Once my client’s subconscious mind knows that there are more healthy choices, it will let go of smoking.”
Contact info: Advanced Hypnosis Center, 345 East 56th Street, 212-585-4430,

Have you, or someone you know, quit smoking using a holistic method? Tell us, here!

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