HEALTH

Study: Researchers find that committing to quit smoking every Monday improves success rate

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO — According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 120 million Americans will make New Year’s resolutions, with such health-related goals as quitting smoking topping the list. 

Unfortunately, most of those quitters will be puffing away by Groundhog Day.

Instead of encouraging smokers to plan one quit attempt around New Year’s, which comes only once a year, experts believe a better strategy would be to follow a New Year’s quit with a weekly recommitment to quit that takes advantage of natural weekly cycles.

In a 2013 study published Friday in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from San Diego State University, the Santa Fe Institute The Monday Campaigns and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health monitored global Google search query logs from 2008 to 2012 in English, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish for searches related to quitting, such as "help quit smoking," to examine weekly patterns in smoking cessation contemplations for the first time. The study found that people search about quitting smoking more often early in the week, with the highest query volumes on Mondays. This pattern was consistent across all six languages, suggesting a global predisposition to thinking about quitting smoking early in the week, particularly on Mondays.

“On New Year’s Day, interest in smoking cessation doubles,” wrote the study’s lead author, John Ayers of San Diego State University. “But New Year’s happens one day a year. Here we’re seeing a spike that happens once a week.”

Besides catching smokers’ attention on Mondays, weekly cues can help people stay on track with their quit attempts. Since it takes an average of seven to 10 quit attempts to succeed, encouraging people to re-quit or recommit to their quit attempt once a week can reduce the overall time it takes to quit for good.

Joanna Cohen, a co-author of the Google study and director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Institute for Global Tobacco Control, believes “campaigns for people to quit may benefit from shifting to weekly cues to increase the number of quit attempts participants make each year.” In other words, quitters can use Monday as a weekly re-set to make another quit attempt if they slip up.

Another advantage to Monday cues is that they tap into what the scientists describe as a collective mindset around quitting. Morgan Johnson, director of programs and research at the Monday Campaigns and another co-author of the Google paper, said that the surge in quitting contemplations on Monday can be used to provide social support for quitters, an important factor in long-term success. “People around the world are starting the week with intentions to quit smoking — if we can connect those people at school, work and communities we can make a regular ‘Monday Quit’ the cultural norm.”

 

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HEALTH

Greater availability of Plan B to boost sales

BY Michael Johnsen

Sales of OTC female contraceptives ought to be significant in the coming year. Already, the category is up 2.3% to $232.7 million, and that number is expected to go up now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved Teva Women’s Health’s Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) without a prescription. This ends mandated placement behind the pharmacy counter, as well as the restriction not to sell the product to a woman younger than 16 years old without a prescription.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

“The availability of Plan B One-Step in the aisles of retailers nationwide ensures improved access to a product that has been clinically evaluated and is a safe and effective backup birth control method for women of all reproductive ages,” stated Martin Berndt, VP and GM of U.S. Brand Pharmaceuticals for Teva Women’s Health.

Plan B One-Step will be the only emergency contraceptive that actually can be sold in the OTC aisles, however. The FDA this summer granted Teva Women’s Health exclusive marketing rights for three years. Approval of the generic version will not allow the manufacturer to sell the drug to anyone younger than 17 until the three-year exclusivity period ends.

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New FDA regulations bring lubricant introductions

BY Michael Johnsen

Sales of personal lubricants were down 5.2% to $207.5 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 6, according to IRI across total U.S. multi-outlets. A big part of that decrease is due to new Food and Drug Administration regulations that require lubricant manufacturers to submit a 501k medical device application for approval.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

“Everybody needed to become approved as a medical device,” Jim Beghtol, Lil’ Drug Store Products director North American sales consumer products, told DSN. “It definitely hurt the category.”

That may explain the spate of recent lubricant introductions and suggest that the category is primed to recover.

The FDA just last month approved Conceive Plus from Sasmar, which joins Li’l Drug Products’ PreSeed as one of the only fertility-friendly personal lubricants that helps increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant naturally.

One, a specialty brand of premium condoms in North America, this summer sought to extend its non-traditional line into the personal lubricant space with One Move — a silicone-based lubricant — and One Oasis — a water-based lubricant that is paraben-free.

And Sylk USA this summer launched a personal lubricant marketed as gentle and pH balanced. According to the company, the new personal lubricant not only meets the needs of the young woman, but also the menopausal woman and seniors as the product is touted as adding comfort to those suffering from vaginal dryness associated with certain medications and treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation.

Lil’ Drug Store Products is planning a personal lubricant launch in the spring under its Replens banner. “We’re getting ready to launch our own silicone-based item that will appeal to the older crowd,” Beghtol said. “We’ve got thousands of women who are on our [Replens] mailing list,” he said. “And 76% of Replens users use lubricants. So there’s a real opportunity to help our retail partners capture more of the silicone users and help bring this category back to where it needs to be.”

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