txt2stop: a smoking cessation program we like ūüėČ

Our friends across the pond have found an effective way to help smokers quit: text messaging.

In a 6,000-person trial, a group of smokers (“txt2stop group”) were sent motivational and informational texts such as “Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over.”¬† The control group received a few messages, only thanking them for taking part in the trial.

The results? The txt2stop group had a 10.7% quit rate at six months, more than twice the control group.

As cell phones are constantly in hand, they are perfect tools to deliver personalized motivational cues and tips to break the smoking habit. Not only are cigarettes chemically addicting, but the habit is also associated with daily activities like breaks from work. Quitting requires immediate and powerful interruptions and reminders like text messaging.

“Cigarette smoking is the chief,¬†single¬†avoidable cause of death in our society,” U.S Surgeon¬†General¬†Koop said 2 decades ago. It still remains a global threat to health. Over 90% of smokers realize these dangers but fail to quit.

Many attempts to combat smoking such as taxation, media campaigns, and education have unfortunately had little impact. These results illustrate the power that groups like txt2stop can provide with more personalized and direct routes to preventing behavioral driven disease.

More at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Science News.