Reduced Tobacco Use
Excerpts from the Book
The Transcendental Meditation program has been found to be effective as a natural means of reducing or stopping smoking, actually more effective than other approaches despite the fact that it is not designed as a tool to stop smoking. A comprehensive analysis of TM’s effectiveness in reducing cigarette use compared to other methods was published in a special double issue of the Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly in 1994. /14 That study used meta-analysis to evaluate the different approaches in different studies. Published meta-analyses often use a quantitative index to evaluate the different approaches called an “effect size.” In measuring changes in behavior an effect size of .80 is considered a big effect of the program, while an effect size of .50 is considered a medium treatment effect, and an effect size of .20 is a small effect. The meta-analysis to evaluate smoking cessation programs compared 16 TM studies to 115 studies on other approaches. For the TM studies the average effect size was .87 (a big effect) and considering only the better designed TM studies, it was .97. By comparison, the effect size for counseling programs was about .20 (small) and for pharmacological treatments about .30 and for the best of the conventional approaches, which was prevention education programs, about .40 (less than a medium effect).
The TM program’s effectiveness is likely a combination of the natural relaxation that comes with the practice and its ability to provide satisfaction from within. Meditators like feeling relaxed and over time many stop using artificial substances.
Michael Cuddehe, age 72, was one of those who wanted to stop smoking, but couldn’t quite do it on his own despite a strong motivation to do so. Michael started smoking when he was twelve. He says his father gave him a hard time about smoking when he was young, so initially he only smoked intermittently. Then, on his sixteenth birthday, his father relented and gave him a birthday present of a carton of cigarettes and Michael became addicted. In those days in high school in Plattsburg, New York, there was a smoking lounge, and at breaks and at lunch he would go to the lounge and smoke. After a while he was smoking a pack a day, then two packs, and by the time Michael was twenty-two, he was smoking four packs a day. He saw a doctor at that time who told him that if he kept smoking, he would die of emphysema, and the doctor warned him that it is not a pretty way to die. Michael said in an interview:
The doctor’s appointment had a big effect on me. I was scared by what he said, and I remember walking out of the doctor’s office and throwing my cigarettes away. That’s when the battle began because I still had the craving, and especially if I was out having a couple of beers. Then I would start smoking again for two or three months, then stop for a while and then start again for a number of months. That went on for five years. Then in 1973 I started TM. There was a pretty dramatic shift internally as a result of TM, and I never again had the desire for cigarettes. I never smoked again.
The American Heart Association says the risk of heart disease is strongly linked to family history. So, because Michael’s father died of heart disease that is a genetic factor increasing Michael’s risk for heart disease. In Michael’s case, however, his TM practice is a protective factor. Michael has been practicing the TM technique continuously since he learned in 1973. He liked it so much he even became a TM teacher. Jay asked him about his current risk factors for heart disease when he interviewed him in May, 2017. Michael said, “I just came from a doctor’s checkup. My blood pressure reading was 110/60. I also have no cholesterol problems, and I don’t need to take any medications. My father on the other hand was taking twelve different medications when he died of heart disease.”