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Study To Test Internet-Based Stop Smoking-Aid

July 2, 2009

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is heading up a $2.9 million National Cancer Institute study to evaluate and increase demand for Internet-based smoking cessation treatments for young adults between the ages 18 to 24 years old.

“Surprisingly, this age group has the highest rate of smoking compared to any other age group,” psychology professor Robin Mermelstein, principal investigator of the 5-year study, noted in a UIC podcast. “In fact, smoking starts to escalate between the ages of 18 and 24, and even though many young adults think about quitting and actually want to stop, they have among the lowest rates of quitting and trying to quit.”

Mermelstein said that when young adult smokers try kicking the habit “they tend not to use what we know works. A lot of young adults don’t actually think that treatments work or they think they are better off using home-grown or naturalistic kinds of approaches and tend to shun evidence-based approaches.”

Mermelstein, along with colleagues at UIC, are in partnership with the University of Iowa and the American Legacy Foundation.  They will work together with the GDS&M Idea City advertising agency to develop interactive, Internet-based ads and evaluate what entices young smokers to use www.BecomeAnEx.org.

“This is a very effective and engaging evidence-based stop smoking program developed by the American Legacy Foundation,” Mermelstein noted. “To reach young adult smokers, you have to go where they are and the Internet is it,” Mermelstein said.

Mermelstein said that another key goal of the project is to find strategies to build their motivation and get young adult smokers to think, adding that “now is the time to quit — not 5 years from now, not 10 years from now, but right now.”

Over 3,000 young smokers will be enrolled in the nation wide study through the Internet, while recruiting will be done through sites like Craigslist.

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