Supporting smoking cessation

A guide for health professionals
Self-help materials
☰ Table of contents

Self-help interventions for smoking cessation in the form of structured programs in written (books, brochures, manuals) or electronic (CDs, online) formats provide support and advice for smokers without the help of health professionals, counsellors or group support. On their own, these materials show only marginal effect compared to no intervention, and there is no evidence that they have an additional benefit when used with other interventions, such as advice from a health professional or NRT.148 There is evidence that materials tailored for individual smokers in different tobacco-dependent populations are more effective than untailored materials.11,150

Both a Cochrane review and a more recent narrative review of 15 studies found evidence of effectiveness of text message mobile phone support programs both in the short and long-term.151,152 Combined internet/mobile telephone programs can be effective for up to 12 months for assisting smokers to quit.153,154

Online smoking cessation interventions are low cost and have the potential to reach a large number of smokers.155,156 A major advantage of the internet over printed material is its interactivity and the ability to tailor information to individual needs, but relatively few sites make use of this possibility (for a good example of an Australian site designed to tailor information to individual needs, see the Quit Coach).17 Web-based programs are a promising delivery system for assisting smokers to quit, but further research is needed to identify their most effective use.

  1. Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, Bailey WC, et al. for the Guideline Panel. Treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service, May 2008.  [accessed 20 March 2011].
  2. Scollo MM, Winstanley MH, editors. Tobacco in Australia: facts and issues. A comprehensive online resource. 3rd edn. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria, 2008. Available from www. [accessed 25 March 2011].
  3. Lancaster T, Stead LF. Self-help interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005, Issue 3. Art. no. CD001118.
  4. Whittaker R, McRobbie H, Bullen C, Borland R, Rodgers A, Gu Y. Mobile phone-based interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012 Nov 14;11:CD006611.
  5. Free C, Knight R, Robertson S, et al. Smoking cessation support delivered via mobile phone text messaging (txt2stop): a single-blind, randomised trial. Lancet 2011;378:49–55.
  6. Civljak M, Sheikh A, Stead LF, Car J. Internet- based interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev2010, Issue 9. Art. no. CD007078.
  7. Whittaker R, Borland R, Bullen C, et al. Mobile phone-based interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009, Issue 4. Art. no. CD006611.
  8. Walters ST, Wright JA, Shegog R. A review of computer and internet-based interventions for smoking behavior. Addict Behav 2006;31:264–77.
  9. Lenert L, Munoz RF, Perez JE, Bansod A. Automated e-mail messaging as a tool for improving quit rates in an internet smoking cessation intervention. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2004;11:235–40.


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