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Feasibility, efficacy, and cost analysis of promoting smoking cessation at outdoor smoking “hotspots”: A pre-post study

Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 20(12):1519-1524. 2018
Cheung Y.T.D., Lam T.H., Li W.H.C., Wang M.P. and Chan S.S.C.


INTRODUCTION: To motivate smokers to quit, there is a need for enhanced smoking cessation (SC) recruitment and for innovative and proactive approaches to SC. This study evaluated the feasibility, efficacy, and cost of promoting SC in public outdoor areas where smokers gather to smoke (smoking hotspots).

METHODS: We selected 14 smoking hotspots in Hong Kong for SC promotion in 2015. University students were trained as SC ambassadors to deliver brief SC intervention, and to recruit smokers for telephone follow-up. The proportion of smokers accepting the intervention components was recorded. Self-reported abstinence in the past 7 days and knowledge of smoking and health were assessed at the 6-month follow-up. The average costs of each smoker receiving our intervention and quitting were also compared.

RESULTS: Of 3,080 smokers approached, 1,278 (41.5%) accepted the souvenir and 920 (29.9%) received brief advice. Of the 210 (6.8%) who consented to the follow-up, 24.5% were aged 15-29 and 46.4% were aged 30-49. Of the 151 smokers successfully contacted within 1 month after recruitment, 16 (10.6%; 1.3% of the 1,278 who received any form of intervention) reported abstinence, and their overall knowledge improved. The average costs for a smoker to receive brief advice, consent to follow up by telephone, attempt to quit, and quit successfully at the 6-month follow-up were US$30, US$132, US$601, and US$1,626, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Promoting SC at smoking hotspots could be a feasible way to achieve satisfactory quitting outcomes at low cost and is useful in the absence of the strengthening of tobacco policies.

IMPLICATIONS: Our study indicates that outdoor smoking hotspots are feasible platforms for promoting SC and recruiting smokers for cessation services; satisfactory outcomes can be achieved at a reasonable cost. Our promotion was particularly useful for recruiting young smokers and those who want to quit. It is feasible and efficacious to raise smokers' awareness of SC when other tobacco control policies not feasible. Indoor smoking bans or other substantial tobacco control policies could enhance the efficiency with which SC is promoted.

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