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Can Twitter Help You Quit Smoking?

Mar 04, 2015 04:43 PM EST

(Photo : Pixabay)

Smoking is a notoriously bad habit that's extremely hard to shake, but one new study shows that with help from Twitter of all things, smokers actually have a good chance of quitting.

"Our results indicate that incorporating social media-delivered automessages from trained counselors was effective in promoting smoking cessation," Cornelia Pechmann from the University of California, Irvine, who co-led the study, said in a news release. "The twice-daily messages encouraged people to tweet their group members, which made them more accountable for quitting."

During the study, members of Tweet2Quit - two, 20-person groups - communicated online via Twitter for 100 days, each receiving a free supply of nicotine patches and daily automated text messages. They were asked to tweet their group at least once a day about their progress.

According to the results, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, each person sent out on average 72 tweets, with 60 percent of participants even tweeting past the 30-day mark. Overall, 78 percent of members tweeted their fellow study subjects at least once during the 100-day study.

But more importantly, thanks to their Twitter support group, 42 percent of the members from the first group quit smoking during the study, while 75 percent from Group 2 were successful.

"The Twitter environment created a sort of party dynamic," Pechmann explained. "That's especially important for social smokers. In addition, group leaders naturally emerged, facilitating the online conversations. These leaders played a critical role in keeping people engaged."

Specifically, Tweet2Quit members tweeted about various subjects, including setting a quit date, using nicotine patches, countering roadblocks, utilizing self-rewards, believing in themselves and feeling pride. And the more they tweeted at each other, the more likely they were to remain smoke-free.

The findings suggests that this kind of encouraging and direct social media exchange may be more effective than traditional social media interventions that aim to help people quit smoking.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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