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Study Reports Texting can help People Quit Smoking

Update Date: Jun 09, 2014 01:04 PM EDT

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths throughout the world. In order to promote healthier lifestyles, officials and experts have created several anti-smoking campaigns and initiatives to prevent people from starting and to get smokers to quit. According to a new study, researchers found that a texting therapy program was effective in getting people to quit smoking.

In this study, the researchers examined the effectiveness of a program called "Text2Quit." The program works by sending smokers encouraging messages that are aimed to get them to quit. For example, one message might tell the smoker how much money he or she can save if they cut cigarettes out of their lives. Another message might give smokers tips on sticking with their smoking cessation aids.

People who use Text2Quit can also text the program key words, such as "CRAVE" and "SMOKED." The program will respond by providing tips to overcome cravings or tips to get them back on track after relapsing.

In order to see if this program can be effective, the team, headed by the creator of Text2Quit, Lorien Abroms of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, recruited more than 500 smokers who were all trying to quit the habit. Half of the sample used the program whereas the other half acted as the control group.

"I was interested in helping people quit smoking with cognitive behavioral therapy, and given the widespread use of cellphones, I thought this was a neat opportunity," stated Abroms, who is also a professor at George Washington University's School of Public Health in Washington, D.C, reported by NPR.

After six months, the researchers found that 11 percent of the smokers in the program were able to quit successfully. Only five percent of the participants in the placebo group were able to stop smoking. The researchers relied on self-reports and saliva tests.

"People are using mobile phones," Abroms said reported by ABC News. "This is a tool that people are regularly using, in touch with, living their lives attached to. Given how widespread mobile phone use is, it's great we can take advantage of it to help people quit smoking."

Despite the success from this study, critics cautioned that there is no program that can help all smokers quit. The effectiveness of these types of programs is highly dependent on the individual. Text2Quit is a cost effective method that offers another option for smokers who found no success with other smoking cessation aids or programs.

The study, "A Randomized Trial of Text2Quit," was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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