If you're looking for support while trying to stop smoking,
an international study suggests text messaging
Four trials conducted in New Zealand, Britain, and Norway found that programs
to help people stop smoking that included text messages with advice doubled the
chances a person would be able to quit smoking for up to a year.
The trials involved 2,600 smokers. During the trials, text
messages were used as a way to give smokers advice, encouragement, and support.
For example, if a user found himself craving nicotine, he could text
"crave" to the program and receive advice on what to do.
"We know that stopping smoking can be really difficult
and most people take several attempts to quit successfully," researcher
Robyn Whittaker from the University of Auckland in New Zealand told Reuters
Health. "It is important to be able to offer lots of different options for
Two of the four studies considered programs that involved
only text messages. These studies showed the text message programs doubled the
chances smokers would quit over six weeks. The other two studies focused on a program
in Norway that uses text messages, emails, and a dedicated Web site. These
studies found that smokers who used the program were twice as likely to be
smoke-free for up to one year.
According to Whittaker, only about 5% of smokers are able to
kick the habit without any help. Txt2Quit, one of the programs in the study, is
running in New Zealand with government funding. This program automatically
sends users two to three text messages per day shortly before a designated quit
date and for a month afterwards. Of the people who took part in the program's
first year, one-third did not smoke four weeks after their quit date. That
figure dropped to 16% after 22 weeks.
Although the studies found the majority of smokers taking
part in the studies did not succeed in quitting, regardless of whether they had
text messaging help, the studies do show that text messages could be another
tool in the smoking-cessation arsenal. They also show that text message support
programs could be effective for some people because the programs provide
support when cravings strike. As Whittaker put it, "The frequent messages
can also act as a good reminder and motivation to keep going."