Smoking in the Chat Room


President Barack Obama let it slip that the main reason he quit smoking was because he was afraid of first lady Michelle. But you don't need a fearsome spouse to kick the habit. Research at the University of Georgia shows that health-related social networking websites make it easier for people to kick a nicotine addiction. In other words, the Interwebs may be the new patch.

According to the American Cancer Society, one out of every five deaths in the United States is linked to tobacco, and around 8.6 million people in the U.S. are currently suffering from smoking-related heart and lung diseases.

"Social networking sites and other forms of social media can help people to improve their health conditions," says Joe Phua, author of the University of Georgia study. "These can be used as a stand-alone way to improve chronic health conditions or as part of a holistic treatment plan that includes both professional offline help and online social media sites."

Phua analyzed several sites designed to help people beat the smoking habit through "interconnectedness." He found that members of such groups were able to identify with fellow participants, receive and give support, find common ground and trust one another, all of which can help a person quit smoking.

Sites for smokers who want to stop also feature a range of tips;, for example, has a Quit Plan to help users combine strategies.

And if that doesn't work, maybe you can get the first lady to glare at you.