Surfing the urge: brief mindfulness-based intervention for college student smokers

Psychol Addict Behav. 2009 Dec;23(4):666-71. doi: 10.1037/a0017127.


The current study investigates effects of a brief mindfulness-based instruction set, based on Marlatt's "urge surfing" technique (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985), on smoking-related urges and behavior. Undergraduate smokers (N = 123) who were interested in changing their smoking, but not currently involved in a cessation program, participated in a cue exposure paradigm designed to elicit urges to smoke. They were randomly assigned either to a group receiving brief mindfulness-based instructions or to a no-instruction control group. Results suggest that groups did not differ significantly on measures of urges. However, those in the mindfulness group smoked significantly fewer cigarettes over a 7-day follow-up period as compared to those in the control group. These findings suggest that the mindfulness techniques may not initially reduce urges to smoke but may change the response to urges. The study provides preliminary data for future studies examining both mechanisms and effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for cigarette smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Motivation
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Universities
  • Young Adult