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Texting may help smokers kick the habit Add to ...

There's something about hearing your partner/best friend/daughter nag you to quit smoking that makes you want to light up.

But what if that intervention was less irritating and came from a relatively inoffensive text message? Would it help you kick your habit?

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tested that theory in a trial with 5,800 British smokers. They found smokers who received motivational texts - such as, "TODAY is the start of being QUIT forever, you can do it!" - were more than twice as likely to quit smoking versus participants in the control group who received non-motivational texts, according to the AFP. Researchers determined who had quit using saliva tests to detect cotinine, a chemical found in tobacco.

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The group that received texts had a success rate of 10.7 per cent, whereas those in the control group had a rate of 4.9 per cent. The results of the study were published in the medical journal The Lancet.

The SMS service also served as an automated sponsor of sorts. If a participant texted "crave" to a given number, he would receive a reply with practical advice on how to overcome the temporary desire to light up.

"Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over," was a sample response.

The study's lead researcher, Caroline Free, told the AFP the system is a convenient and easy to implement on a wide scale, since so many people have cell phones. No doubt it's cheaper than the patch and less annoying than a judgmental spouse.

"People described txt2stop as like having a 'friend' encouraging them or an 'angel on their shoulder'. It helped people resist the temptation to smoke," Dr. Free told the AFP.

Tell us what method worked best to motivate you to quit smoking. Do you think an SMS sponsor could help you butt out for good?

 

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