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Text message support for smokers doubles quit rates
Date:6/29/2011

Mobile phones could hold the key to people giving up smoking after a programme involving sending motivational and supportive text messages to smokers doubled quit rates at six months.

The findings of the txt2stop trial, which was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and funded by the Medical Research Council, are published in The Lancet today.

Text messaging is an innovative approach to the deadly problem of smoking, which is estimated to cause more than five million deaths each year worldwide. Putting cigarettes out for good has huge implications for health but although two out of three smokers would like to give up, they often fail. Almost 6,000 people took part in the txt2stop trial, which evaluated this new way of helping smokers beat their addiction.

The study examined the long-term effects of specially-designed text messages by testing the levels of cotinine (a chemical found in tobacco) found in participants' saliva after they reported they had stopped smoking for six months.

A total of 5,800 smokers were randomly allocated to the txt2stop programme or a control group. The txt2stop group received five text messages a day for the first five weeks and then three per week for the next 26 weeks with a personalised system which also allowed people to receive instant messages at times of need by texting the word 'crave' or 'Lapse'.

The messages, which were developed with input from smokers and smoking cessation professionals, encouraged participants to persevere and focused on their success so far. Examples of the messages include:

  • "This is it! QUIT DAY, throw away all your fags. TODAY is the start of being QUIT forever, you can do it!"
  • "Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over".

Control group participants received fortnightly text messages thanking them for taking part in the tr
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Contact: Paula Fentiman
paula.fentiman@lshtm.ac.uk
44-207-927-2802
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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