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4 September 2014

“Friends Make Quitting Smoking Easier” - How an Anti-Smoking Intervention Uses Facebook For Social Support

Keywords: health, intervention, smoking, ERC, North America, content analysis, mobile, mobile phone, peers, tablet, young adults,

Researchers of a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research were interested in the role of Facebook as part of a smoking cessation health intervention directed at young adults. They analyzed the ‘Crush the Crave’ smoking cessation health app with an integrated Facebook page, and found out that Facebook can be an effective tool to build a community of people for social support.  

Take aways

  • Social networking sites and apps can be effective in supporting young adults to quit smoking. 
  • The ‘Crush the Crave’ smoking cessation health intervention, for example, uses a Facebook app effectively to build communities of people for social support. 
  • Especially posts that support app users in smoking cessation, such as “When life’s tough, remember you are tougher”, triggers young adults to respond and share their smoke-related experiences. 
  • It may be wise for health app developers to put effort in implementing online communities for social support, since support from others increases the chance of success.

Study information

  • The question?

    What’s the role of Facebook as part of the ‘Crush the Crave’ smoking cessation health app? 

  • Who?

    The ‘Crush the Crave’ Facebook page had a total reach of 7,282 young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years (56% were men, and 57% came from Canada)

  • Where?


  • How?

    The ‘Crush the Crave’ smoking cessation health app helped young people to quit smoking via different features, such as a customized quit-smoking plan, notifications of money saved, health improvements, and the possibility to share personal smoking cessation experiences through Facebook. To study the role of Facebook, a total of 399 ‘Crush the Crave’ Facebook posts were analyzed from October 10, 2012 until June 12, 2013. 

Facts and findings

  • Of the 399 posts on the Facebook page integrated within the ‘Crush the Crave’ app, 121 posts were original (primarily initiated by a moderator), and 278 were reply posts of users who were trying to quit or who were already smoke-free. 
  • Most of the original posts (71%) supported smoking cessation by posts that for instance encouraged cessation by posting an image with the text “When life’s tough, remember you are tougher” or posts that encouraged group stimulation with an image from a girl who went shopping accompanied with the text “Cool piece from ’66. What would you rather spend your money on?” or posts that promoted social support with the text “Find a quit buddy, backup goes a long way.” (see Figure 1 for the themes used to support smoking cessation). 
  • Some of the original posts (29%) supported the marketing of Crush the Crave; for instance, with an image of the Iphone 5 accompanied with the text “Have you entered the Crush the Crave contest yet? You could WIN an iPhone 5!”. 
  • Posts that supported smoking cessation triggered the app users to reply the most. 77% replied to posts that supported smoking cessation, and only 23% responded to posts that promoted Crush the Crave. 
  • Most of these replies to supportive smoking cessations posts were forms of user engagement, where people for instance expressed their enjoyment of the images posted or forms of sharing, were users shared their smoking-related experiences. 
  • Fun fact: women replied way more often (78%) to the original posts compared to men (20%). 
  • Tip! The original article contains more examples of posts supporting smoking cessation (see link on the right side).