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J Med Internet Res. 2013 Mar 18;15(3):e50. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2342.

Prevalence and characteristics of smokers interested in internet-based smoking cessation interventions: cross-sectional findings from a national household survey.

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Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.



An accurate and up-to-date estimate of the potential reach of Internet-based smoking cessation interventions (ISCIs) would improve calculations of impact while an understanding of the characteristics of potential users would facilitate the design of interventions.


This study reports the prevalence and the sociodemographic, smoking, and Internet-use characteristics of smokers interested in using ISCIs in a nationally representative sample.


Data were collected using cross-sectional household surveys of representative samples of adults in England. Interest in trying an Internet site or "app" that was proven to help with stopping smoking was assessed in 1128 adult smokers in addition to sociodemographic characteristics, dependence, motivation to quit, previous attempts to quit smoking, Internet and handheld computer access, and recent types of information searched online.


Of a representative sample of current smokers, 46.6% (95% CI 43.5%-49.6%) were interested in using an Internet-based smoking cessation intervention. In contrast, only 0.3% (95% CI 0%-0.7%) of smokers reported having used such an intervention to support their most recent quit attempt within the past year. After adjusting for all other background characteristics, interested smokers were younger (OR=0.98, 95% CI 0.97-0.99), reported stronger urges (OR=1.29, 95% CI 1.10-1.51), were more motivated to quit within 3 months (OR=2.16, 95% CI 1.54-3.02), and were more likely to have made a quit attempt in the past year (OR=1.76, 95% CI 1.30-2.37), access the Internet at least weekly (OR=2.17, 95% CI 1.40-3.36), have handheld computer access (OR=1.65, 95% CI 1.22-2.24), and have used the Internet to search for online smoking cessation information or support in past 3 months (OR=2.82, 95% CI 1.20-6.62). There was no association with social grade.


Almost half of all smokers in England are interested in using online smoking cessation interventions, yet fewer than 1% have used them to support a quit attempt in the past year. Interest is not associated with social grade but is associated with being younger, more highly motivated, more cigarette dependent, having attempted to quit recently, having regular Internet and handheld computer access, and having recently searched for online smoking cessation information and support.

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