Background: Tobacco smoking is responsible for human diseases of the lung, heart, circulatory system and various kinds of cancers, and is a serious public health problem worldwide. Acupuncture has been promoted as a treatment modality for smoking cessation. However, its efficacy still remains controversial.
Methods: We conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled trial using auricular acupuncture for smoking cessation in 131 adults who wanted to stop smoking. Thirteen subjects withdrew from the study and 118 subjects were included in the final analyses (mean age, 53.7 +/- 16.8 years; 100 males, 18 females). The treatment group (n = 59) received auricular acupuncture in Shen Men, Sympathetic, Mouth and Lung points for 8 weeks. The control group (n = 59) received sham acupuncture in non-smoking-cessation-related auricular acupoints (Knee, Elbow, Shoulder and Eye points). The enrolled subjects were then followed monthly for 6 months after stopping the acupuncture treatment.
Results: Between both groups before acupuncture treatment, there was no significant difference with regard to gender, mean age, education level, and mean values for the age at which smoking started, smoking duration, daily number of cigarettes smoked and nicotine dependent score. At the end of treatment, cigarette consumption had significantly decreased in both groups, but only the treatment group showed a significant decrease in the nicotine withdrawal symptom score. Smoking cessation rate showed no significant difference between the treatment group (27.1%) and the control group (20.3%) at the end of treatment. There was also no significant difference in the smoking cessation rate between the treatment group (16.6%) and the control group (12.1%) at the end of follow-up. There were no major side effects of auricular acupuncture in both groups.
Conclusion: Our results showed that auricular acupuncture did not have a better efficacy in smoking cessation compared to sham acupuncture. Combined acupuncture with behavior counseling or with nicotine replacement therapy should be used in further smoking cessation trials to enhance the success rate of smoking cessation.