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Motivational Text Messages May Help Smokers Quit

WEDNESDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- Motivational text messages more than double the odds that smokers will be able to kick the habit, new research suggests.

The study included 5,800 smokers in the United Kingdom who wanted to quit and were assigned to either a group who received motivational text messages (2,915 participants) or a control group who received non-motivational text messages (2,885 participants).

The motivational messages sent to those in the so-called txt2stop group included encouragement, help dealing with cravings, and advice on preventing weight gain while quitting smoking. For example, the message about cravings said: "Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over."

The non-motivational messages said things not connected to the study, such as thanking people for taking part or asking for confirmation of contact details, according to the report published online June 29 in The Lancet.

The participants' saliva was tested to verify quit rates. Those who received motivational messages were more than twice as likely to quit as those in the control group -- 10.7 percent versus 4.9 percent. The findings suggest that motivational texting should be added to existing techniques used to help people quit smoking, concluded Dr. Caroline Free, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues.

"Text messages are a very convenient way for smokers to receive support to quit. People described txt2stop as like having a 'friend' encouraging them or an 'angel on their shoulder.' It helped people resist the temptation to smoke," Free said in a journal news release.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, June 29, 2011

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