Prediction of Smoking Risk From Repeated Sampling of Environmental Images: Model Validation

J Med Internet Res. 2021 Nov 1;23(11):e27875. doi: 10.2196/27875.


Background: Viewing their habitual smoking environments increases smokers' craving and smoking behaviors in laboratory settings. A deep learning approach can differentiate between habitual smoking versus nonsmoking environments, suggesting that it may be possible to predict environment-associated smoking risk from continuously acquired images of smokers' daily environments.

Objective: In this study, we aim to predict environment-associated risk from continuously acquired images of smokers' daily environments. We also aim to understand how model performance varies by location type, as reported by participants.

Methods: Smokers from Durham, North Carolina and surrounding areas completed ecological momentary assessments both immediately after smoking and at randomly selected times throughout the day for 2 weeks. At each assessment, participants took a picture of their current environment and completed a questionnaire on smoking, craving, and the environmental setting. A convolutional neural network-based model was trained to predict smoking, craving, whether smoking was permitted in the current environment and whether the participant was outside based on images of participants' daily environments, the time since their last cigarette, and baseline data on daily smoking habits. Prediction performance, quantified using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and average precision (AP), was assessed for out-of-sample prediction as well as personalized models trained on images from days 1 to 10. The models were optimized for mobile devices and implemented as a smartphone app.

Results: A total of 48 participants completed the study, and 8008 images were acquired. The personalized models were highly effective in predicting smoking risk (AUC=0.827; AP=0.882), craving (AUC=0.837; AP=0.798), whether smoking was permitted in the current environment (AUC=0.932; AP=0.981), and whether the participant was outside (AUC=0.977; AP=0.956). The out-of-sample models were also effective in predicting smoking risk (AUC=0.723; AP=0.785), whether smoking was permitted in the current environment (AUC=0.815; AP=0.937), and whether the participant was outside (AUC=0.949; AP=0.922); however, they were not effective in predicting craving (AUC=0.522; AP=0.427). Omitting image features reduced AUC by over 0.1 when predicting all outcomes except craving. Prediction of smoking was more effective for participants whose self-reported location type was more variable (Spearman ρ=0.48; P=.001).

Conclusions: Images of daily environments can be used to effectively predict smoking risk. Model personalization, achieved by incorporating information about daily smoking habits and training on participant-specific images, further improves prediction performance. Environment-associated smoking risk can be assessed in real time on a mobile device and can be incorporated into device-based smoking cessation interventions.

Keywords: AI; CNN; artificial intelligence; behavior; computer vision; digital health; eHealth; ecological momentary assessment; environment; images; mHealth; machine learning; mobile health; mobile phone; neural network; smoking; smoking cessation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Smokers
  • Smoking
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco Smoking