Smokers are most likely to think about kicking their habit on Mondays, according to a new study, and this finding may help boost the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns.
For the study, the investigators monitored online searches about quitting smoking that were conducted in English, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish worldwide between 2008 and 2012.
The results showed that people searched about quitting smoking more often early in the week, with the number of searches highest on Mondays. The number of searches on Mondays was 25 percent higher than the combined average number of searches on Tuesday through Sunday.
This pattern was consistent across all six languages, according to the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Sense in the chaos
On Mondays, searches in English for information about quitting smoking were 11% higher than on Wednesdays, 67% higher than on Fridays and 145% higher than on Saturdays, the results showed.
These findings may lead to changes in the way health officials and providers design anti-smoking programs, said study lead author John Ayers, of San Diego State University.
"Popular belief has been that the decision to quit smoking is unpredictable or even chaotic," Ayers said in a university news release. "By taking a bird's-eye view of Google searches, however, we find anything but chaos. Instead, Google search data reveals interest in quitting is part of a larger collective pattern of behavior dependent on the day of the week."
Study co-author Joanna Cohen, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Global Tobacco Control, suggested that "campaigns for people to quit may benefit from shifting to weekly cues. We know it takes smokers many quit attempts before they succeed, so prompting them to try again on Mondays may be an effective and easy-to-implement campaign."
Further research is needed to learn more about the reasons for these findings and how they could help boost quit rates, Ayers said, but the immediate message for smokers is straightforward: "If you're a smoker, just remember: Quit this Monday. Everyone else is doing it."
The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.