There are 1.1 billion smokers worldwide. Traditional smoking cessation methods, such as nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation groups, yield between 14% and 27% abstinence rates at 6 months. Evidence-based Internet interventions with comparable abstinence rates could be a powerful global tool to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.
We report a randomized control trial in which 500 Spanish-speaking and 500 English-speaking adult Internet users, smoking at least 5 cigarettes/day and intending to quit in the next month, were recruited online from 68 countries. Consenting participants who completed baseline measures, logged cigarettes smoked on 3 days within a week, and set a quit date were randomized to four conditions. Each condition added new elements: Condition 1 was the “Guía Para Dejar de Fumar,” a static National Cancer Institute evidence-based stop smoking guide; Condition 2 consisted of Condition 1 plus E-mail reminders to return to the site; Condition 3 consisted of Condition 2 plus mood management lessons; and Condition 4 consisted of Condition 3 plus a “virtual group” (an asynchronous bulletin board). Main outcome measures were 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after initial quit date.
There were no significant differences among the four conditions. The overall 12-month 7-day abstinence rates were 20.2% for Spanish speakers and 21.0% for English speakers when those with missing data were assumed to be smoking.
Internet smoking cessation interventions with such abstinence rates provided globally in additional languages could contribute substantially to tobacco control efforts.