A new study found that smokers who use social networking sites for quitting smoking achieve success due to creation of supporting groups from like-minded people. These virtual connections increase smoker’s chances to kick their habit. The finding is based on answers of 252 users of health-centric websites. The study was published online in the Journal of Communication.
The researchers discovered that smokers who use social networking sites are able to quit smoking and keep away from smoking for longer period of time due to the sense of community they create with other members.
The author of the study is Joe Phua, who is an assistant professor in the department of advertising and public relations at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. In order to find out how social networking sites influence smoking cessation efforts, he used 6 health-focused sites, including Why Quit, iVillage and Inspire. These sties are not sponsored by tobacco industry and all of them have basic social networking features such as message boards, profiles, news feeds and “friend” links.
7 out of 10 network users were white with the average age 40. Generally, the group was well-educated. Participants of the survey answered on questions about how much time they spent on the site and the degree to which they felt their beliefs, attitudes and specific views on smoking. Also there were questions about the amount of social support they felt they got from other members of the sites, After all, the participants had to rank themselves in terms of their confidence about being able to qiut smoking.
The results of the survey showed that respondents spent on average 4 hours a week on sites posting about 6 messages a week. Respondenta found at average 43 online friends among their fellow smokers, with some turning into real friendships. These friendships seemed to increase users’ sense of empowerment with respect to their ability to stay away from cigarettes forever. They had a wonderful possibility to discuss their smoking cessation issues with like-minded people and get their support.
Phua said that using tobacco is an addictive behavior and a chronic health problem. However, most medical experts don’t approach it as a serious situation, therefore it is hard to get help from medical community. In this situation online tools are excellent as they are available to everyone and showed their effectiveness in smoking cessation.