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Pro-smoking smartphone apps: beyond what was written

Lecture for PUBH 5420: Public Health Advocacy Strategies. University of Sydney. 2013.

Nasser F BinDhim

on 20 December 2016

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Transcript of Pro-smoking smartphone apps: beyond what was written

Pro-smoking smartphone apps: beyond what was written
- In 2010, a study found that most of the
smoking cessation apps
available in the
Apple app store
not follow the guidelines
for smoking cessation.
- In 2012, we conducted a review of
free smoking cessation apps
in the
Apple store
Android market (Google Play)
and found that all
the 130 apps

lacked the informational content about smoking
which is necessary to help quit. (Not Published)
Between April 2012 and April 2013, we have released the

Advisor"app in
Apple App store
Android market (Recently Known as Google Play)
measure the natural uptake
of smoking cessation apps and
determine the Users’ characteristics
in 5 countries.
In 12 months, the app was downloaded by
more than 2,500 users
. About
37% responded
to the questionnaire. Of those
more than 70%
willing to quit within the next 30 days
, and have
tried to quit at least once
during the last 12 months.
of the respondents have
tried smoking cessation apps
before, and of those, about
attempted to quit using these apps.
Given that most smoking cessation apps are of low quality and not evidence-based. Were they getting the right help?
Most respondents never sought ‘
’ help
healthcare professional help

in the last 12 months.
pro-smoking apps
have found their way to this emerging medium. In 2012, we identified 107 pro-smoking apps 42 of these apps were from the Android Market and
downloaded by average of 11 million users
How the app was described by the publisher in Apple App Store
Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health in UK, said "
The measure we have in this country to control tobacco promotion apply to 20th century techniques, not 21st century
ones such as the internet and smartphones. Apps are exactly the sort of thing that will attract young people to sample tobacco products because they glamorise them" (The Guardian)
Matthew Myers, president Washington-based Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids
said "It is deeply troubling that such a powerful and rapidly expanding marketing tool, one that reaches kids easily and cost-effectively, is being used to promote smoking,
the study should prompt action to prevent smartphone apps from becoming a new means of marketing cigarettes to kids
. " (Yahoo news)
Such interactive games may be worse for kids than billboards and magazine ads
, says Barbara Loken, a consumer psychologist at the University of Minnesota. "
They increase the involvement or engagement of the participant, even more than advertisements
" Loken tells Shots in an email. This "may make the participant even more likely to take up smoking." (NPR radio)
government requested a list of the identified apps to be investigated.
Few weeks after the release of the study
more than 27 apps
have disappeared.
By mid 2013, Apple Store has introduced new
age restriction categories
Are pro-smoking apps Targeting Children? and Where?
In our new study in Tobacco Control Journal Titled “
” We identified the
countries where pro-smoking apps are most popular
and investigated
whether app stores play a role in promoting or regulating these apps
, and
if any of these apps were targeting children
We found that the
pro-smoking apps were equally popular in countries with strict tobacco control regulations
, such as a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertisements (e.g., Australia),
and countries with fewer tobacco control regulations
(i.e., Indonesia).
Two pro-smoking apps (both have a smoking simulation function) were highly popular in the ‘
Educational Games
’ and ‘
Kids’ Games
’ categories in
Germany, Italy, and the United States
in Apple App Store.
App Stores Huge Mistake!!
Google Play
Apple App Store
featured pro-smoking apps
in various categories.
1- BinDhim NF, Freeman B, Trevena L. Pro-smoking apps for smartphones: the latest vehicle for the tobacco industry? Tobacco Control. 2012 October 22, 2012. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050598

2- BinDhim NF, Freeman B, Trevena L. PRO-SMOKING APPS: WHERE, HOW AND WHO ARE MOST AT RISK? Tobacco Control. 2013. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051189
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