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Text message service helps smokers quit

Smokers twice as likely to quit if sent motivational text messages

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 04 July 2011

Patients attempting to quit smoking are twice as likely to be non-smokers six months later if they are sent motivational text messages during their quit attempt, according to a study in The Lancet.

Around 2,900 smokers were sent motivational texts before their planned quit date plus regular texts once they had given up. As well as being motivational the texts included tips on dealing with cravings and maintaining a healthy body weight. A similar number of smokers were sent text message with content unrelated to smoking or giving up.

After six months the patients sent saliva samples by post to the researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who tested the samples to check whether the patients had been smoking.

The results showed that 10.7% of the patients who received motivational text messages were non-smokers compared with 4.9% of those who did not receive the motivational messages.

The researchers said: "On the basis of these results the txt2stop intervention should be considered as an addition to existing smoking cessation services. In this trial the intervention was effective on its own and when used alongside other smoking cessation interventions.”

They added that it would be easy to scale up the txt2stop intervention for delivery at a national level.

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