Young adults are less likely to use evidence-based treatments for smoking cessation such as medication, counselling or phone-based quit lines, a clinical trial has shown. Due to that social media-based programmes could potentially expand the reach of cessation services. As per a research, smokers are 2.5 times more likely to quit post a cessation intervention programme delivered entirely on social networking giant Facebook than by other online quit-smoking programmes.
The social media-based programmes can be used effectively to support short-term positive behaviour change, especially among young adult smokers- a challenging group to reach and treat, the researchers said.Also Read - Project 'Jedi Blue': Google, Meta CEOs Face Lawsuit For Collusion to Dominate Ad Market. Details Here

“We found that we could reach a hard-to-reach population, have short-term abstinence, and also have excellent engagement,” said Danielle Ramo, Associate Professor at University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). Also Read - Meta Faces $3.1 Billion Lawsuit in UK Over Exploiting Users' Data. What You Need to Know

“The social media environment can be an engaging tobacco treatment tool, even for those not ready to quit,” Ramo added. Also Read - When, Where And Which Next COVID-Like Virus Could Emerge In World? AI May Have An Answer

Published in the journal Addiction, the study involved 500 participants with an average age of 21 years old. Almost 87 per cent of the sample included daily smokers.

They participated in a 90-days programme called Tobacco Status Project, where they were assigned to private Facebook groups tailored to their readiness to quit smoking.

The intervention methods included daily posts, weekly live question and answer sessions, and weekly live cognitive behavioural counselling sessions with a doctoral-level smoking cessation counsellor.

The results showed that participants were two-and-a-half times more likely to have biochemically verified abstinence from smoking compared to controls at three months (8.3 per cent vs 3.2 per cent) and that abstinence over a longer period occurred among those who were prepared to stop smoking compared to others. However, the same effect was not sustained over a year during follow-up assessments.

Abstinence over a longer period occurred only among those who were prepared to stop smoking versus those who simply contemplated it or those who were not thinking about it at all, the researchers said.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year. Over 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand or passive smoke.

Around 80 per cent of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in low and middle-income countries and are at health risks such as coronary heart disease, stroke as well as cancers.

In fact, it is a good thing to know that such programmes can help young people to quit smoking effortlessly rather than relying on other things which are harder to pursue.