How to quit smoking with WhatsApp

How to quit smoking with WhatsApp

Do you use WhatsApp? How many of the social groups you belong to have a digital version on this app? What do you share? And how often do you scroll down just to have no unread messages? Our social connectedness can sometimes be a burden nowadays. But, it can also serve a purpose. Today a good friend and colleague of mine quit smoking for 100 days! Mostly thanks to WhatsApp.

Let me introduce you to Goos Huijzer (1964). She has been working as an expert taking care of the animals and facilities of the laboratory of experimental surgery in the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. She has witnessed the rise of exemplary surgeons introducing novel techniques such as laparoscopy. Like no other, she knows how to take care of animals in the lab and has been delivering quality work for over 20 years.

As an aspiring surgical resident, I love to stroll with her through the lab and watch her experienced hands work like a good doctor would do: effective but minimally invasive.

There was only one small down side. Several times a day, she had to go outside to smoke. When she was sick for two weeks with a lung infection and afraid to go see a doctor who might diagnose lung cancer, I decided two initiate an experiment.

Goos started smoking when she was 12 years old and a package a day was not an exception. The habit was engraved deeply in her daily life and although she was not unwilling to stop, it would be hard. However, her phone was almost as precious to her as one thing that was as her lighter and pack of her cigarettes. Goos is concerned not only with animals, but also with other human beings making her social network very important to her.

After reading the book ‘Hooked’ of Nir Eyal, I realized social support and a reward might contribute to the solution.

 Hooked model of NIr Eyal

Hooked model of NIr Eyal

On the fifth of May, I started a group WhatsApp with Goos, Eva (another colleague) and I, called: “Goos quits smoking day 1”. Every morning, the subject title of the WhatsApp group would be changed to the amount of days.

Every day we would post a little #reddit movie of an animal doing something funny or extraordinary as a form of motivational support.

We often met for coffee at work and Goos stated that the chat group offered her both support but also served as watchful eye that she didn’t want to let down. The fact that she didn’t only tell herself she would quit but also promised us, created an additional incentive.

 Eva and I being proud

Eva and I being proud

Today, Goos has quit smoking for 100 days and we are exceptionally proud of her and are hoping to continue for the next!

Disease for profit

Disease for profit

“Beste Edith, wuif de wetenschap niet zomaar weg.”

“Beste Edith, wuif de wetenschap niet zomaar weg.”