When do most smokers think about quitting; New Year’s Day maybe, on their birthday perhaps? Actually, it’s neither of these. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medical revealed that the most popular day for would-be quitters is: Monday.
Researchers studied Google data from 2008 until 2012 in English, Chinese, Russian, French, Spanish and Portuguese and looked for search patterns specifically related to quitting smoking. It was found that people searched for topics associated with quitting smoking more often at the beginning of the week; the greatest search volumes being experienced on Mondays. Interestingly, the pattern remained consistent across all six nationalities studied which strongly suggests a global tendency to think about quitting “next week”. In fact, search volumes for all nationalities were 25% higher on Mondays than on any other day of the week.
Study author, John W Ayers, commented that popular belief had been that the decision to give up smoking was unpredictable, whereas in fact it is anything but. Co-author, Joanna E Cohen who is also a director of the John Hopkins Institute for Global Tobacco Control welcomed the findings as presenting an opportunity for more effectively targeted smoking cessation programmes. Based on the study’s findings, it would now be much more feasible to concentrate “kick the habit” campaigns on Mondays when smokers are known to be more receptive to trying to quit.
Morgan Johnson, research director for The Monday Campaigns who sponsored the study agreed and commented that reaching people when they were actually thinking about quitting would be a far more effective strategy than just random campaigning. People like to feel that they’re not alone in their decision to quit and the knowledge that they are part of a majority group can really help motivate them to keep going and follow their intentions through.
The study has provoked much excitement among other researchers eager to investigate the weekly rhythms’ influence on other behaviours in areas such as weight loss, giving up alcohol and the like.
Whatever the outcomes of future studies, the message for smokers is simple; don’t wait for New Year’s Day to give up, start your quit campaign next Monday. You can bet that all around the world, everyone else will be!