Personalized, frequent email support is as effective at helping smokers quit as popular smoking cessation drugs, according to an American Cancer Society study published in the journal Tobacco Control.
Success with smoking cessation is notoriously low. Nicotine is highly addictive, and smoking is often heavily integrated into smokers’ lives. Replacing the habit can be challenging. A 2016 study found the average smoker makes between six and 29 quit attempts before ending the habit permanently. Using email support, about a third of smokers were able to quit.
Supportive Emails to Quit Smoking
Researchers worked with a group of 1,070 smokers who planned to quit. They divided participants into three groups:
- The first group received 27 personally tailored smoking cessation emails.
- The second group received three to four personally tailored emails that included links to additional information in downloadable booklets.
- The third group received a single generic email.
All the emails also contained links to resources that provide assistance in quitting smoking.
Researchers asked participants about their success quitting after seven days, one month, three months, and six months following the beginning of the study.
These results were independent of other factors that can affect smoking cessation success, including number of cigarettes smoked per day, presence of other smokers in the home, use of smoking cessation aids, and gender. This suggests the emails, rather than some other factor, played a key role in smoking cessation success.
The quit success rate of the first group was similar to the success rate of smokers who use the most effective smoking cessation drugs, the study’s authors say. This points to the role that personalized support can play in smoking cessation success. For smokers who want to avoid medication or nicotine replacement, customized support may be a vital tool.
- Chaiton, M., Diemert, L., Cohen, J. E., Bondy, S. J., Selby, P., Philipneri, A., & Schwartz, R. (2016). Estimating the number of quit attempts it takes to quit smoking successfully in a longitudinal cohort of smokers. BMJ Open, 6(6). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011045
- Customized, frequent emails show promise in tobacco cessation. (2017, May 18). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170518143824.htm
- Westmaas, J. L., Bontemps-Jones, J., Hendricks, P. S., Kim, J., & Abroms, L. C. (2017). Randomised controlled trial of stand-alone tailored emails for smoking cessation. Tobacco Control. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053056
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