Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Each year, one in every five deaths, (about 443,000 in total) is smoking related. The health risks associated with smoking translate into annual healthcare costs of more than $96 billion, with costs associated with second hand smoking averaging $10 billion. Interestingly, 70% of the 43.4 million U.S. adult smokers report that they want to quit completely and more than 40% try to quit each year. However, smoking cessation is extremely difficult; in fact, only about 4% - 7% of people are able to remain smoke free for six months on any given attempt. These success rates dramatically increase to between 14% - 27% if smokers use medicines or behavioral therapies, but such methods may be expensive for both the insurer and patient, inconvenient, or difficult to access. Therefore, it is imperative that a successful, convenient, and cost-effective smoking cessation aid be developed.
Prominent University of California clinicians, Ricardo F. Muñoz, Ph.D. and Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D. have developed an extremely successful, web-based, smoking cessation program. The program takes eight weeks to complete and combines a smoking cessation guide with individually tailored advice, optional email reminders, and an optional mood management program. Since 2002, over 17,500 smokers from over 155 countries have participated in a series of randomized controlled smoking cessation trials using this program. The study boasts an impressive success rate, with 20% of the participants remaining smoke-free after one year. Significantly, this success rate is comparable to those seen for nicotine replacement therapies, or smoking cessation groups, yet the web program has the important advantages of reducing the cost per patient and increasing the ease of patient access. Furthermore, this fully developed stand alone program is available in both English and Spanish, making it accessible to virtually every American smoker.
Smoking, Smoking cessation, Website, Behavioral therapy, Behavior modification