YouTube as a source of quitting smoking information

Tob Control. 2011 Mar;20(2):119-22. doi: 10.1136/tc.2009.035550. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


Objective: To conduct analyses to determine the extent to which YouTube videos posted specific to smoking cessation were actually about quitting smoking and if so, whether or not they portrayed evidence-based practices (EBPs).

Methods: In August 2008, researchers identified YouTube videos by search strategies, 'relevance' and 'view count' using the following three search terms: 'stop smoking', 'quit smoking' and 'smoking cessation (n=296 for full sample and n=191 for unique videos).

Results: Overall, almost 60% of videos contained a message about quitting smoking. Differences were found across search terms for videos about quitting smoking, with 'stop smoking' yielding the highest percentage (80.8%) of videos about quitting smoking. Almost half of the videos (48.9%) contained EBPs for cessation strategies; however, a significant portion contained either non--EBPs (28.4%) or both EBPs and non-EBPs (22.7%). The number of views per an individual video across the six categories ranged from a low of 8 in the 'relevance' strategy and 'smoking cessation' search term to a high of 1,247,540 in the 'view count' strategy and 'stop smoking' search term. Of the top three most viewed videos by strategy and search term, 66.7% included a specific mention of quitting smoking and, of these, the majority included EBPs.

Conclusion: Results highlight the need to develop and upload videos containing EBPs both to increase the overall proportion of EBP videos in all categories, particularly in 'quit smoking' and 'stop smoking.' Research is needed to study whether YouTube videos influence knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding quitting smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Internet*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Video Recording / methods
  • Videotape Recording / methods*