Cell phone messages help smokers quit

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Last updated April 12, 2019

Video and text messages designed to assist smokers to quit the habit and sent to them via their new and old cell phones have increased the rate of success for quitters by 50 percent in comparison to those who attempted to quit without such assistance, a New Zealand study is reporting.

Researchers that published their work in The Cochrane Library discovered that around nine percent of wannabe quitters were able to go without cigarettes for a minimum of six months when given encouragement and reminders via cell phone messages, in comparison to the five percent who tried to do it alone.

“We can’t say all text messaging interventions are going to work,” admits Robyn Whittaker from New Zealand’s University of Auckland, who was the lead author of the study.  “But it certainly shows there’s reason to believe that mobile phone based interventions are a good option to think about adding to your portfolio of smoking cessation services.”

The cell phone programs, which were included in the review, involved video or text that was sent to smokers every day for a number of weeks, getting them prepared for their chosen quit day with advice and motivation.  After the arrival of the quit day, participants sometimes received several messages per day for many weeks, giving them encouragement and providing tips on how to beat cravings as well as extra resources to try to quit again if they have a relapse.

The cell phone programs are automated and are simple to scale up for widespread usage.