Quit Smoking App for American & Russian University Students
NYU Langone’s Section on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use developed and evaluated the effectiveness of a mobile application to reduce smoking among university students in the United States and Russia, as well as increase awareness of one another’s cultures. We worked with the education technology company Cognotion to pilot test the app with student participants from the United States and Russia.
Developing a Smoking Cessation App
Globally, smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death, yet there are currently no evidence-based, commonly used mobile apps that address tobacco cessation. As recently as 2011, only 3 percent of apps available in the United States incorporated strategies that have been shown to work, and the studies of these apps have not been rigorous. Apps that are currently available are either poorly designed or not engaging, which limits their public health impact. These apps typically include calculators, calendars, hypnosis, rationing, and other approaches.
Results from Survey of Students
Our team held focus groups and surveys with American and Russian university students to understand their smoking habits and gauge their interest in using a smoking cessation app. We surveyed 139 students—78 from the United States and 61 from Russia. Of those young adults surveyed, 75 percent of Russians and 28 percent of Americans started smoking before the age of 18. Additionally, 69 percent of Russians and 39 percent of Americans in the focus groups smoked every day for 30 days before the survey.
Students told us that the following features would make a smoking cessation app attractive:
- choosing a quit buddy through a set of matching characteristics (88 percent)
- viewing progress through a tracking system (83 percent)
- tracking cravings (78 percent)
- setting a quit date (66 percent)
- receiving reminders to send support messages to peers (67 percent)
Our team, based in New York City and St. Petersburg, Russia, has a broad range of expertise, including smoking cessation, mobile health, working with disadvantaged youth, and health communication. The team was led by Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH, professor in the Departments of Population Health, Medicine, and Psychiatry; and Maia Rusakova, PhD, of NGO Stellit, a nonprofit in St. Petersburg.
The Eurasia Foundation’s U.S.-Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE) funded the app. SEE is a diverse network of social experts and entrepreneurs from Russia and the United States engaged in a meaningful exchange of ideas and best practices with the goal of producing positive change in the lives of citizens in both countries.
For questions and to learn more about the app, please contact Dr. Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org.