Smoking is a major public health problem, killing approximately 443,000 people every year in the United States. Quitting smoking can have a profound effect on a person's health, but it is also one of the hardest addictions to kick. A recent paper published in the Journal of Communication found that people who engage in health specific social networking sites found it easier to quit smoking.
Joe Phua, University of Georgia, examined health-based social networking sites that focus on helping members to quit smoking. He found that as participation on these sites increased, members began to build a sense of community on the sites. Specifically, they started to identify more strongly with other members, receive and give more social support, found common ground from smoking behaviors and built a sense of trust.
As a result of the increased social connectedness associated with participating on the sites, these members ultimately become more likely, and found it easier, to quit smoking. They also maintain abstinence for a longer period of time, because of their increased sense of self-efficacy to abstain from smoking during tempting situations (e.g. when out drinking, when stressed, when sad, etc.).