More than 11 percent of smokers who used a text- messaging program to help them quit did so and remained smoke free at the end of a six- month study as compared to just 5 percent of controls, according to a new report by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (Milken Institute SPH.)
"Text messages seem to give smokers the constant reminders they need to stay focused on quitting," Lorien C. Abroms, ScD, MA, an associate professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute SPH and the lead author of the study, said.
"However, additional studies must be done to confirm this result and to look at how these programs work when coupled with other established anti-smoking therapies," the researcher said.
Smokers trying to quit can turn to the tried-and-true methods like phone counseling through a quit line and nicotine replacement therapies, but increasingly the evidence is building for using text messaging on mobile phones.
Text-messaging programs, like Text2Quit, work by sending advice, reminders and tips that help smokers resist the craving for a cigarette and stick to a quit date.
The text messages in the Text2Quit program are interactive and give smokers advice but they also allow participants to ask for more help or to reset a quit date if they need more time.
Smokers who have trouble fighting off an urge can text in and get a tip or a game that might help distract them until the craving goes away, Abroms said.
At the end of six months, the researchers sent out a survey to find out how many people in each group had stopped smoking.
They found that people using the text-messaging program had a much higher likelihood of quitting compared to the control group, a finding that suggests that text-messaging programs can provide an important boost for people struggling with a tobacco habit.
This study adds to other evidence suggesting that stop-smoking text-messaging programs are a promising tool, Abroms added.