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Craving a cigarette but trying to quit? A supportive text message might help

Last year, we reported on a study showing that text messaging can be an effective and economic anti-smoking tool. Today, NPR aired a segment on a recent review of studies showing something similar: Evidence from five trials indicate that receiving text messages that "provide motivation, support and tips" can increase a smoker's odds of quitting.

In her piece, reporter Patty Neighmond details the services offered to study participants:

In the texting groups, smokers started with an online support system and set a date to quit. When that day arrived, [Robyn Whittaker, MD, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, who led the review] says, so did practical advice via text messages like this: "Today, you should get rid of all the ashtrays in the house or car; you should have a plan because it's going to be hard in the first few days; make sure you have a plan to get support from friends and family."

These were automated responses, but they could get personal. For example, if someone started to feel desperate, he could text a one-word reply: "Crave." In response, says Whittaker, he would receive tips about how to get through the cravings. Things like "take a walk" or "eat a little something." The good news, she says, is that cravings last only a few minutes.

And even setbacks got a quick, supportive response. "Sometimes people have one puff or a couple of puffs while out socially and think, 'Oh, no, it's all over, I've ruined it,' " says Whittaker. "But that's not true. A lot of people have little lapses like that, and we can just try and boost their motivation to keep going because they can keep going, even after a relapse."

Previously: Exercise may help smokers kick the nicotine habit and remain smoke-free, National Cancer Institute introduces free text message cessation service for teens, Kicking the smoking habit for good and Can daily texts help smokers kick their nicotine addiction?
Via @SusannahFox
Photo by Joi

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