Kicking the smoking habit online

Posted Nov 3, 2017 by Tim Sandle
New research concludes that online social networks, specificlaly designed to help smokers kick the tobacco habit, can be effective. Success rises provided users are active participants.
Never too late to quit smoking.
Never too late to quit smoking.
There are various means by which someone can attempt to quit smoking, ranging from reducing nicotine content and through measures like hypnosis. A new approach attempts to fuse the cyber and psychological by taking advantage of the online experience.
Specifically the approach centers on online social networks. These are networks that have been developed to help smokers give up the unhealthy tobacco habit. The approach is based on research conducted at the University of Iowa together with the Truth Initiative, which is a nonprofit anti-tobacco organization.
For the research, psychologists together with technologists looked into the tobacco use of over 2,600 smokers. Each tobacco user had signed up to, which is the Truth Initiative's online smoking cessation community. The platform was designed in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic.
The research outcome was that 21 percent of those classified as active users of the tobacco drug reported, once they started using the online community, that they managed to quit smoking three months later. Conversely, those who were less active in the community were found to be less likely to quit over the equivalent time period.
According to lead researcher Dr. Kang Zhao the results show that online interactions can predict offline behavior. The researcher explains: “How central you become in the online social network after the first week is a good indicator of whether you will quit smoking.”
He adds: “This is the first study to look at smokers' behaviors in an online community over time and to report a prospective relationship between social network involvement and quitting smoking."
The types of online support provided included blogs, forums, and messages. This type of scheme is likely to be expanded on the back of the study for increasing integration into the social network appears to be a significant predictor of subsequent abstinence.
The research has been published in the journal PLOS One. The study comes under the title "A prospective examination of online social network dynamics and smoking cessation."