Texting beats self-help efforts in helping smokers quit

Customized text messages are twice as effective at helping smokers quit the habit compared to self-help initiatives, reveals a study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The approach also proves effective in helping ex-smokers remain committed to avoiding the habit, according to an announcement touting the research from the Center for Advancing Health (CFAH).

The study tested the efficacy of the Text2Quit program. It divided 500 smokers into two groups: One group of wannabe quitters received self-help materials, while a second group of smokers who wanted to quit was sent personalized text messages via the Text2Quit program starting the day the smoker declared they would quit.

Nearly 20 percent of those receiving texts claimed to have quit compared to 10 percent of those receiving self help materials, according to the researchers.

"Anything that can help anyone quit is good. You need a variety of techniques available," Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy at Action on Smoking and Health, an advocacy group in Washington, said, according to the CFAH announcement. "Even if something like texting only has a marginal effect on the quit rate, it should be added to menu of options available to smokers who want to quit."

This is not the first study to showcase the effectiveness of Text2Quit. As FierceMobileHealthcare reported in 2013, Text2quit boasted self-reported quit rates as high as 32 percent after six months.

A feasibility study spanning three countries published in February also found that smartphone-based smoking cessation apps are a promising medium to reach smokers.

For more information:
- read the announcement
- check out the study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine