“Laser” for quitting smoking: watch out for smoking

posted on Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 10:53 AM

With the “stop smoking in one session” laser, “success rate of 85%”: these tempting promises are being swarmed on the Internet in France. But beware, this technique, like other allegedly miraculous methods, is not scientifically proven, doctors and authorities warn.

“1 year warranty and no weight gain”, promises the site of a large network of “anti-tobacco laser centers”. According to its promoters, the “soft laser” stimulates the points on the earlobe, which is an action to reduce the desire for nicotine.

A technique that claims to be “auriculotherapy”, itself derived from acupuncture.

“Smokers can be in big trouble if they have tried to quit several times and are very easily trapped,” Daniel Thomas, a former head of the cardiology department at La Pitié Hospital in Paris, explains to AFP. -Salpêtrière, spokesman for the French-speaking Tobacco Company (SFT).

Although this means paying an average of 150 to 250 euros per session. The promises are all the more tempting because they skillfully manage a lexicon evoking medicine: “Cabinets”, “therapists”, “treatment” …

“I suppress the physical need to smoke,” said AFP Hakima Koné, manager of the Paris Laser Center. You have to be very motivated and she “is not a sorceress” but assures that there is no method “that would work either”. “Clearly” scientifically proven method according to her.

– “Fashion” –

However, “there is no study or scientific data to prove the effectiveness of this method,” one French Ministry of Health said. “Laser is not one of the proven methods that has proven its effectiveness in quitting smoking,” we confirm on the official website “Tobacco-Info-Service”.

As early as 2007, the Canadian Cancer Society warned against this method, benefiting from very positive advertising campaigns promising to quit smoking, alcohol and drugs.

Fifteen years later, science is still skeptical, but laser is “in vogue” in France thanks to “many advertising screens in newspapers and magazines, on television or on the Internet,” three pulmonologists and tobacco specialists note in an article in the French medical journal Le Courrier. des Addictions, which underlines the absence of serious conclusive studies.

If most smokers stop on their own, the “proven methods” for those who need help are nicotine substitutes (patches, chewing gum, etc.), some medications, certain psychotherapies, explains Mr Thomas.

However, a smoker can come out of a session of this technique perfectly free of his desire to smoke, the specialist notes, especially because the placebo effect can have a significant impact.

– “Placebo effect” –

To the extent that the High Health Authority (HAS), an independent public body, confirms that unless the benefits of non-validated methods have been demonstrated, their use cannot be ruled out due to a “possible placebo effect”. Provided that they are “proven to be harmless”.

As all specialists emphasize, will remain the key in any case. “Without motivating the patient, I did a session and you went to light a cigarette …” admits AFP Nicole Sauvajon-Papillon, a retired anesthesiologist who has been involved in auriculotherapy.

Not to mention all the other variables: a smoker who wants to quit is likely to engage in better life habits (sports, diet, etc.) that will help him succeed. It is therefore difficult to determine which factor (s) allowed him to stop.

If these methods “cannot harm a priori and are sometimes likely to support highly motivated smokers, the main criticism that can be leveled at these centers is to make them panacea with a high success rate of 85% unbelievable,” Mr Thomas concludes.


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