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J Med Internet Res. 2014 Jul 10;16(7):e169. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3430.

The use of social media by state tobacco control programs to promote smoking cessation: a cross-sectional study.

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RTI International, Public Health Policy Research, Research Triangle Park, NC, United States.



The promotion of evidence-based cessation services through social media sites may increase their utilization by smokers. Data on social media adoption and use within tobacco control programs (TCPs) have not been reported.


This study examines TCP use of and activity levels on social media, the reach of TCP sites, and the level of engagement with the content on sites.


A cross-sectional descriptive study of state TCP social media sites and their content was conducted.


In 2013, 60% (30/50) of TCPs were using social media. Approximately one-quarter (26%, 13/50) of all TCPs used 3 or more social media sites, 24% (12/50) used 2, and 10% (5/50) used 1 site. Overall, 60% (30/50) had a Facebook page, 36% (18/50) had a Twitter page, and 40% (20/50) had a YouTube channel. The reach of social media was different across each site and varied widely by state. Among TCPs with a Facebook page, 73% (22/30) had less than 100 likes per 100,000 adults in the state, and 13% (4/30) had more than 400 likes per 100,000 adults. Among TCPs with a Twitter page, 61% (11/18) had less than 10 followers per 100,000 adults, and just 1 state had more than 100 followers per 100,000 adults. Seven states (23%, 7/30) updated their social media sites daily. The most frequent social media activities focused on the dissemination of information rather than interaction with site users. Social media resources from a national cessation media campaign were promoted infrequently.


The current reach of state TCP social media sites is low and most TCPs are not promoting existing cessation services or capitalizing on social media's interactive potential. TCPs should create an online environment that increases participation and 2-way communication with smokers to promote free cessation services.


mass media; public health; smoking; social media; tobacco

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