Free help to quit smoking

Long-time smokers are invited to apply to join an innovative new approach to finally help quit smoking – all free and online for up to 800 Australians.

The Flinders University study will offer the gold-standard Randomised Controlled Trial method to test four different approaches to quitting smoking – including online group sessions and mentoring.

There is a much higher prevalence of smoking in more disadvantaged populations (also referred to as ‘low SES’), with 19.3% of ‘low SES’ South Australians still smoking in 2019 compared to 8.6% in the least disadvantaged populations.

“We are particularly excited because this program is being offered to smokers in the low socioeconomic status (SES) – not only in Adelaide but across Australia,” says chief investigator, Flinders University Professor Paul Ward.

“Resilience is thought to play an important role in quitting success,” Professor Ward says.

Professor of Public Health Paul Ward and colleagues have been developing new ways to quit smoking habits.

“A key part of the project will be peer support from mentors who are ex-smokers who can help participants with everyday management of cravings and triggers and how to transition to a new identity of being a non-smoker. This also increases the chance of quitting success for participants.”

Some of these approaches will use online small group sessions led by facilitators to train participants in cognitive, behavioural and mindfulness-based strategies to increase resilience.

The Cancer Australia-funded program moved online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elissa Mortimer, project manager and Flinders research fellow, says the online option means participants can take part in the project from interstate or rural and regional areas.

A previous study laid the foundation for the interventions being rolled out in the new study.

“In the first study with members of this key population of low-income earners, we used a list of interventions which had been reported to be effective in increasing resilience for quitting smoking,” she says. “From this list, participants agreed that mindfulness training and setting realistic goals were the most acceptable.”

Peer support, another effective approach identified by participants as a useful and feasible option, has also been incorporated into the current study.

Photo: Pixabay

Key stakeholders in the program include Quitline, Drug and Alcohol Services SA, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The study is open to adults who are regular smokers (usually smoke at least one cigarette per day for at least the past two years) and are currently planning to quit.  To participate they will also need their own smartphone, meet an income test and agree to participate in the study online for 18 months.  Participation is free.

Flinders University researcher Elissa Mortimer who is project manager

The new study will add to the evidence base from the previous research undertaken by the Flinders College of Medicine and Public Health with low SES smokers.

“Participants and researchers in these studies will improve future programs and policies to support low SES smokers,” Ms Mortimer says.

“This is particularly important because the prevalence of smoking in this population is higher and the success of quit attempts lower than higher SES populations.”

In SA, the overall rate is more than double the more advantaged socioeconomic groups – and numbers of women still smoking remains stubbornly high compared to a decline in numbers of men quitting.

The Commonwealth Government’s Cancer Australia ‘Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme’ project, entitled ‘Increasing resilience and reducing smoking for lower socio-economic groups,’ has more than $550,000 in funding over three years.

Anyone interested in participating in the study can visit the study site and take the two-minute survey to check if they are eligible: and also or

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College of Medicine and Public Health