Online U of R program coaches smokers through quest to quit

A program developed by University of Regina researchers aims to help smokers butt out by offering tailored advice online.

Guide to Quit offers tailored advice online for 28 days

Eliminating triggers that make people desire a cigarette when quitting, such as an ashtray, is part of the Guide to Quit program. (REUTERS/Erik De Castro)

Researchers at the University of Regina are hoping their program to help people quit smoking could be the new nicotine patch. 

The group has launched an online guide to help people stop smoking called Guide to Quit. The program guides smokers through their first 28 days of quitting. Previous studies have shown that people who quit for 28 days are five times more likely to butt out for good. 

Holly Parkerson, a PhD candidate in Psychology, helped develop the program. She said people using Guide to Quit log in daily and make note of their cravings, issues and any stressful events that may be coming up. 

Researcher Holly Parkerson says there is a strong desire among Canadian smokers to quit, but not enough support available. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)
The program then gives them tailored advice to help through the issues without turning to cigarettes. It also helps people plan to change things in their environment to curb cravings. 

"This is a big part of quitting, is that there's all these reminders and cues that make you want to light up," Parkerson said.  

The amazing thing about the program, Parkerson said, is that it's entirely automated. Anyone aged 18 to 65 can sign up, as long as they have internet access.

"This provides a really cost-effective way to help people all over the nation, whether they're in rural areas or larger centres," she said. 

Need for support

Parkerson said that there is a lack of support in Canada for people who want to quit smoking. 

She said that one in nine quit attempts ends in failure, even though the majority of Canadian smokers say they want to quit.

Since the program was launched in October, Parkerson said about 200 people signed up without it even being advertised.

"It shows us that there is really a need for this support, and that there are people actually out there seeking it out," she said.

"It's kind of an exciting development for us." 

Clinical trial

The researchers are testing the effectiveness of the program at a clinical trial. 

They're monitoring smokers who use the program to quit and tracking whether each person has been able to stay away from cigarettes eight weeks later. They also check back at the three-month and six-month mark. 

The researchers will compare these results to quitters who didn't use the program.  

Anyone interested in signing up can find the program at


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