A content analysis of popular smartphone apps for smoking cessation

Am J Prev Med. 2013 Dec;45(6):732-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.07.008.


Background: Smartphone applications (apps) are increasingly available for smoking cessation.

Purpose: This study examined the content of popular apps for smoking cessation for both iPhone and Android operating systems in February 2012.

Methods: A total of 252 smoking-cessation apps were identified for the iPhone and 148 for the Android. Across both operating systems, the most popular apps were identified (n=47 for the iPhone and n=51 for the Android) and analyzed for their (1) approach to smoking cessation and (2) adherence to an index based on the U.S. Public Health Service's Clinical Practice Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. Where available, apps were coded for frequency of downloads. The analysis took place in 2012.

Results: Overall, popular apps have low levels of adherence, with an average score of 12.9 of a possible 42 on the Adherence Index. No apps recommended calling a quitline, and only a handful of apps recommended using approved medications (4.1%). Android apps in the sample were downloaded worldwide between 310,800 and 1,248,000 times per month. For both the iPhone and Android, user ratings were positively associated with scores on the Adherence Index. For the iPhone, display order was also positively associated with scores on the Adherence Index.

Conclusions: Apps could be improved by better integration with the Clinical Practice Guidelines and other evidence-based practices.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / rehabilitation*