An innovative smoking cessation program using Facebook reaching 7´000 Swiss smokers
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Carrefour addictionS, CIPRET-Geneva, Switzerland
CIPRET Valais, Switzerland
Ibrid Communication, Switzerland
Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Tobacco Control Fund, Switzerland
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A879
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Tobacco smoking causes multiple diseases, premature mortality and is a major public health threat. In Switzerland, smoking prevalence is high (25%) but stable since 2011. Half of smokers want to quit but they underuse effective smoking cessation services. Programs using social networks are a new smoking cessation approach potentially able to reach many smokers. We designed, implemented and tested an innovative large-scale smoking cessation program using Facebook for 7 months in 2016 in 4 states of Switzerland.

7008 smokers were enrolled within 2 months through Facebook advertising. The program created 4 communities of smokers of each state interacting on a Facebook page. 2400 Facebook publications, which triggered 67000 comments, stimulated interaction. After a 3-week preparation providing information and advice, all participants quit smoking together on March 21, 2017. Then, they received mutual support from peers and professional help daily during 6 months. Professional support included 3 levels: community managers watching and regulating the activity; counsellors providing personalised smoking cessation counselling; physicians providing personalised counselling for complex and medical issues. Personalised counselling at 2nd and 3rd levels included help for cessation plans, relapse prevention strategies and use of nicotine replacement. Evaluation surveys were conducted at 1 week, 3 and 6 months among 1270 participants, of whom 37% responded.

81% of participants attempted to stop smoking. At 6 months,13.5% reported total smoking abstinence while 19% were trying to quit despite occasional consumption. Smoking cessation was not associated with socio-demographic factors. The community dynamics, a strong intention to quit and relapse prevention strategies predicted success while high nicotine dependence, exposure to smokers and negative affect were negative predictors.

A large-scale smoking cessation program using Facebook, providing mutual and professional support seems effective to reach large numbers of smokers, stimulate smoking cessation attempts and promote smoking abstinence at 6 months.

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