Twitter-based smoking intervention programme called "Tweet2Quit" was twice as successful at kicking the habit as those using traditional ways, reports a team from the University of California-Irvine and Stanford University.
"The results indicate significant possibilities for using social media as a delivery mechanism for health prevention intervention, specifically in smoking cessation," said Cornelia Pechmann, professor of marketing at the University of California-Irvine.
Pechmann along with Judith J Prochaska, associate professor of medicine at Stanford, found that 'Tweet2Quit' participants reported 40 percent sustained abstinence after 60 days compared to 20 percent for control participants.
"Incorporating social media-delivered automessages written by tobacco treatment experts was effective in promoting smoking cessation," Pechmann noted. "The twice-daily messages encouraged people to tweet their group members, which made them more accountable for quitting," the authors pointed out.
The messages are based on clinical guidelines for smoking cessation and employ positive, open-ended questions that encourage online discussion, such as "What will you do when you feel the urge to smoke?"
"Because of the low cost and high scalability of social media, 'Tweet2Quit' has tremendous potential to deliver low-cost tobacco treatments on a global scale," Pechmann added.