Recruiting adolescents into smoking cessation programs has been challenging, and there is a lack of effective smoking cessation interventions for this age group. We aimed to assess whether the approach of using aging images can be used to recruit young, female smokers for a smoking cessation course. In this study, 853 14- to 18-year-old subjects were photographed (2006-2007). After software-aided aging, the images evoked strong emotions, especially in subjects with an advanced motivational stage to quit. Twenty-four percent of current smokers reported that the aging images increased their motivation to quit smoking (pre-contemplation: 8%; contemplation: 32%; and preparation: 71%). In multivariate analyses, the aged images had a high motivational impact to quit smoking that was associated with an increased readiness to stop smoking and the individual's assessment of the aging images as shocking, but not with the number of previous attempts to quit and the assessment of the pictures as realistic. However, it was not possible to recruit the study population for a smoking cessation course. We concluded that aging images are a promising intervention for reaching young women and increasing their motivation to stop smoking. However, smoking cessation courses may not be appropriate for this age group: none of the recruits agreed to take a cessation course.
Keywords: adolescent women; aging images; motivational stages; recruitment; smoking cessation.