How Truth Initiative’s Khoros-powered EX Community is encouraging people of all ages to quit nicotine and tobacco

Company background 

Truth Initiative is America's largest nonprofit public health organization dedicated to achieving a culture where young people reject smoking, vaping, and nicotine and a future where tobacco and nicotine addiction are a thing of the past. Their work spans youth prevention, tobacco control research, activism, and digital programs to help people quit tobacco. Truth Initiative’s two cornerstone cessation programs are ‘EX’ for adult tobacco users and ‘This is Quitting’ for teen and young adult e-cigarette users.

“Quitting tobacco and nicotine isn't easy, but it can be done with the right support. We know because we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people stop using tobacco through innovative, easy-to-access digital solutions and a powerful online support community.” 

- Dr. Amanda Graham, Chief of Innovations, Truth Initiative

Leveraging Khoros technology to drive a positive social outcome in the community

While research has shown the power of social support in helping people break free from tobacco and nicotine addiction, it also reveals that family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors can’t always provide the best kind of support.

For over 15 years, Truth Initiative has run the EX Community – now powered by Khoros – to provide anonymous, 24/7 peer support to people working to break free from nicotine addiction.

As the longest-running online community dedicated to tobacco cessation, the EX Community has served hundreds of thousands of adult tobacco users focused on quitting. This community brings together people from all walks of life — across ages, income and education levels, disability status, and more.

Truth Initiative’s research has shown that smokers who visited the EX Community were more than twice as likely to quit than their peers who didn’t. This effect was strongest in those who actively posted and engaged with other members, but even those who “lurked” in the community were more likely to successfully quit. Staying active in the EX Community for a longer period of time also helped users maintain abstinence.

What makes the EX Community a success

Each month in the EX Community, thousands of current and former tobacco users share candid advice and powerful motivation, supporting each other through the quitting journey and celebrating each day members are free from tobacco addiction.

This community offers users support in multiple ways:

  • In-the-moment advice from a variety of perspectives, with an average of 12 comments per post and replies often within 12 minutes of posting

  • Emotionally powerful, candid personal accounts of quit journeys

  • Empathy and encouragement in the face of relapse

  • Support for quitting all types of tobacco (smoking, vaping, dip/chew) as well as support for parents in helping a child quit vaping

Expertise from Truth Initiative’s long standing partners at the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center

How Khoros helps the EX Community thrive

The Khoros platform is an ideal technology solution to support tobacco users. Between out-of-the-box features and custom elements, it enables members to connect and support each other in many different ways.

  • The place where EX sees the most activity in its community is the ‘Conversations’ space. Here, members reach out for support and established members pass along their wisdom to those newer to the process of quitting.

  • Another powerful element of the EX Community is the ‘Daily Pledge,’ a space where members commit publicly to another day without tobacco.

  • The ‘Groups’ part of the community connects people with a shared hobby or interest — further strengthening the ties created around quitting tobacco and sharing the fun and meaningful pursuits that happen in smoke-free lives.

  • Khoros Communities has enabled EX to feature content from its partners on the Mayo Clinic Blog, which further solidifies the trust users have in the community.

“Our Khoros-powered community on EX is one-of-a-kind in its life-saving impact on tobacco users of all ages. It is literally saving lives.” 

- Megan Jacobs, Vice President of Product, Truth Initiative

    Initiatives supported using the Khoros platform

    With e-cigarette use among young people at alarming levels, Truth Initiative has begun to see a steady influx of young people coming to the EX Community to seek help with nicotine addiction.

    truth®, the national tobacco prevention and education campaign run by Truth Initiative, shares the facts about smoking, vaping and nicotine use and provides resources to help young people quit. Today, it addresses twin public health crises: mental health and nicotine addiction.

    In January 2020, the truth campaign began promoting This is Quitting as a resource for 13- to 24-year-olds who want to quit vaping. Delivered via text message, This is Quitting provides support that is specifically designed for teens and young adults.

    When e-cigarette users who are 25 and older attempt to sign up for This is Quitting, they are redirected to EX where they can access a suite of dynamic web-based tools and information; companion email and text messaging to guide their quit efforts; and, the powerful Khoros-powered EX Community.

    Results and metrics

    Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as young people struggled with social isolation and a whirlwind of stressors, the EX Community played a pivotal role in promoting self-care — both in terms of quitting vaping and supporting mental wellbeing.

    From November 2021 to May 2022, 4,268 adults ages 25 and older registered on EX after being referred from This is Quitting. Of those, nearly 20% joined the EX Community, 13% of whom actively engaged in a discussion.

    The EX Community is unique in its ability to provide 24/7 support in the form of a thriving and vibrant online resource. It is a powerful tool that is helping Truth Initiative achieve its mission of ending tobacco addiction. Truth Initiative is proud to provide the rich functionality of the Khoros platform to support its members

    What do EX Community members have to say?

    “I am 25 and too young to have an addiction this strong. It does hurt my heart that I don’t feel like I’m strong enough to overcome it by myself…. Which led me to this site and group. I feel very comforted knowing I’m not alone and there are people out there don’t know me… yet want me to succeed in my goals.” 

    - Samhenke3

    “Thanks everyone. I asked for two cigarettes today. The dopamine hit doesn’t last long. I don’t know why I did that, except that I wanted to celebrate my birthday. There are better ways. I got a better dopamine hit from baking my own birthday cake! I’ll stay close to the site for support. You are right - there is never such a thing as one hit. I’ll get right back to my quit. I went for a short walk afterwards and felt so much better. I don’t know why I did that. I’m better off without cigarettes/vapes. Next time a crave comes, I’ll come to the site for support. Thanks.” 

    - jettagirl170

    “Hey everyone! I just wanted to post that I am 6 days free from vaping nicotine and I am doing so good!...I couldn’t love it more! I have already started proving to myself that I CAN BECOME AN EX!! Thank you to the EX COMMUNITY for helping me along my journey!!!!” 

    - MommaTetteh

    “this site has been more helpful then (sic) I imagined! Reading others experiences, tips and tricks on how to fight a craving are literal life savers!” 

    - MeFirst2022