WASHINGTON: The Schroeder Institute at Legacy has launched a Facebook app called “UbiQUITous” to help smokers quit and to provide data about how people quit smoking.
To promote the app, Legacy is using media relations, press releases, and its social media channels. The app is debuting on the eve of a new year, which is a season when many smokers try to quit, said Sarah Shank, senior communications manager at Legacy. It will also run some advertisements on the site.
UbiQUITous will give public health researchers a front-row seat to see how a smoking-cessation tool goes viral through groups of smokers online, as well as what conditions make a public health intervention most likely to spread between individuals, said Nathan Cobb, lead researcher and developer of the app.
“No one has done this before. We're excited,” Cobb said. “There are 140 million Americans on Facebook, and no matter how you slice it, a large number of those are smokers.”
The app posts a user's daily quitting progress to his or her Facebook timeline, and directly notifies supporters on milestones such as the first day, or one week smoke-free. The hope is that those people in the quitter's social network will send words of support.
UbiQUITous also provides tailored information on quitting, integrated social support, and proactive contact to users. It will also tell them things like how much money they save by quitting and their progress.
The Schroeder Institute hopes to ultimately have 12,000 users of the app between mid-December 2012 and mid-March 2013.
This Thursday, Legacy is planning to ramp up promotion of its EX program, which is a free online quit-smoking program that provides a convening point for smokers who want to quit and collaborate on their success or talk about the challenges of quitting. The group is promoting it with a video featuring a former smoker that will appear on Legacy's various digital channels.
The program's website, BecomeAnEX.org, has resources, information, and tools to help a person quit, as well as a link to a community of quitters who can talk smokers through the struggle.
In September, the Legacy Foundation launched a mobile game meant to dissuade tobacco use called “Flavor Monsters,” which is available for free download on some Apple and Android devices.