It is the New Year… I have avoided discussing resolutions too much, because that seems to be what everyone in my field does at this time of year… So I am going to be totally original and fresh today… And discuss stopping smoking with hypnosis… Hahaha…

This week, all those people who invested in my health for 2009 project to help them stop smokimg, will be receiving their new and improved programmes with stacks of hypnosis and step-by-step instructions to get them stopping for good… Yes indeed, so I am being very fresh, bright and different today…

So I thought I’d mention that there have been other stop smoking projects for the New Year occurring in the world too this week… A couple of important and fascinating takes on stopping smoking that are particularly pertinent to my field of hypnosis…

In this hypnosis article at Greenwich Time website, they are banning smoking altogether and using hypnosis as a stopping method:

Greenwich Hospital workers, patients and visitors looking to take a smoking break will have to find alternate ways of fighting the craving starting today.

The health-care facility will join 10 other state hospitals to go smoke-free, as it will prohibit smoking on all campuses, including outdoors.

The new policy is part of a statewide initiative started in November by the Connecticut Hospital Association to have all 29 member hospitals be smoke-free by November 2010.

“Smoking is contrary to the mission of hospitals,” said Leslie Gianelli, the association’s director of communications and public affairs. “By restricting it, hospitals are sending a message that smoking is not good for your health.”

Greenwich Hospital’s interior has been smoke-free for several years. But this new program will ban people from smoking or using any tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, outside on any of their campuses, said Donna Gaudioso-Zeale, director of the hospital’s Richard R. Pivirotto Center for Healthy Living.

“We thought that we should basically practice what we preach,” she said.

Recognizing the difficulty people face quitting smoking, the hospital spent more than a year preparing employees for its new smoke-free policy.

“We really attacked it from several fronts,” she said.

The hospital offered access to smoking-cessation programs, therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis and discounts on anti-smoking drugs, she said.

“It’s not something you do lightly because it is an addiction. We recognize that it’s hard for people to quit cold turkey,” she said.

But quitting smoking is not the aim of the program, she said.

“We want the entire campus to be healthy with clean air for everyone,” she said.

Visitors and employees previously could smoke at shelters set up outside of the building, but they are no longer available, she said.

For visitors interested in smoking, Gaudioso-Zeale said the hospital will address them on a one-to-one basis, mostly recommending each person get mints at the gift shop.

Some hospitals were offering complimentary mints, or Nicorette, a mint gum that fights cravings, to visitors to help quell cravings, but Greenwich Hospital opted not to do that. Nicorette is a medication and mints have sugar, which, if given to a diabetic, could cause health problems, she said.

“We know this is a major change, but we think it will ultimately make the hospital a healthier place to be,” she said.

State hospitals already with smoke-free campuses are St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Griffin Hospital in Derby, MidState Medical Center in Meriden, Bristol Hospital, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Rockville General Hospital in Vernon, Manchester Memorial Hospital, Windham Hospital and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London.

In addition to Greenwich Hospital, 14 other state hospitals are slated to go smoke-free this year or next year.

And I simply could not ignore this hypnosis article in the Times Online whereby people are being treated to stop smoking methods over a two day break:

He also knows something of my feelings about smoking, from answers to such further questions as “After you last stopped, why did you start again?” and “What is the main reason why you smoke now?”

We begin with a chat over glasses of chilled mineral water, which Alford tops up regularly. Water, he says, is a crucial weapon for the would-be former smoker, since tobacco (and tea and coffee) raise acidity in the body that the water helps to neutralise.

We move on quickly to his core techniques. First, deep breathing in the correct ratio (three seconds in through the nose, five out via the mouth), then “tapping” — gently, for a few seconds, in a set sequence: above the nose; above, beside and beneath one eye; between mouth and nose; at the top of the chest; under one arm and, finally, on top of the head. This routine feels daft at first, but Alford assures me that it is essential.

Through gentle probing, he traces my smoking back to its emotional roots and questions the well-worn, self-deluding excuses that all smokers offer for their persistent habit. Whenever I frame these in the second person (“Well, you smoke more at night, don’t you, because…”) he raises a quizzical eyebrow and asks: “You?” forcing a correction: “I mean, I smoke more…”

The eyes, the voice … I am deeply relaxed, but fully conscious and alert. As we go through the tapping, he suggests — then I repeat — key phrases from my battles with the weed: a young hospital doctor saying “Still smoking? You must have a death wish”; Amy chiding, “You’ll never give up. You say you will, but you never do…”

Each cycle of tapping ends with a variation on this mantra: “and even though I … [fill in negative thoughts], I deeply and completely accept myself”.

A ghastly phrase. But does the technique work?

Alford is certainly right about one thing. It is the subconscious that controls the desire to smoke, so in Freudian terms it makes more sense to delve into the id than to restate all those “good reasons to stop” that the superego supplies.

And his techniques do refocus his subjects’ attention on the real reasons that they — sorry, I — keep smoking: addiction, not habit; fear, not pleasure. After the second session, my first guilty cigarette tastes terrible.

It would be deeply ungrateful not to mention that the Royal Yacht is the perfect place to bolster a my-body-is-a-temple mentality.

Hugely extended and refitted at a cost of many millions to reopen in summer last year, yet blending inside with the original 1820s hotel — where the Victorian “It Girl” Lillie Langtry held her wedding reception in 1874 — it is a triumph of thoughtful high-tech design. No necessity or reasonable luxury has been overlooked, and the Spa Sirène is a fitting monument to the god of pampering.

I trot from crystal steam room to aromatherapy cabin to sauna to bucket shower to heated marble lounger like a decadent child in a New Age sweet shop, finishing with a seaweed body-wrap and massage that leaves me wonderfully refreshed, although it is a mild worry to hear Julie, the masseuse, refer to coffee and tea as “toxins”. But perhaps that is all part of my re-education.

In between quitting sessions I explore the bustling harbour and busy shopping district on the hotel’s doorstep, wheeze my way along the high old town walls and imbibe the general air of prudently managed wealth. But after all this enjoyment, has transformation been achieved? Am I a non-smoker?

I confess, not yet. But I am smoking less, and have found Alford’s insights invaluable: the breathing control, the focus on varying your — I mean, my — routine and ignoring the unhelpful judgments of others.

I can’t help reflecting, too, that what finally stopped Allen Carr smoking was not his own vaunted technique, but a hypnosis session. It’s food for thought.

Alford has e-mailed several times to check on my progress. He is very much in earnest about this quitting business and soon, I hope, I will be, too.

I love that very interesting reference to Alan Carr there too… It was hypnosis what done it! Fancy becoming a non-smoker too? Stop smoking here.