Good news for anyone who smokes, and wants to quit, and has a cell phone: According to a new study, certain types of text messages can help people quit smoking once and for all.
Published by the Cochrane Collaboration, researchers reviewed five different studies involving over 9,000 people who were trying to break the habit. What they found was that smokers are more successful at quitting if they receive Â supportive text messages.
Here’s how it worked: Smokers received text messages on their phones several times a day. These were either motivational messages or quitting advice. In one study, smokers also received links to short video clips that profiled someone who successfully broke the habit. Meanwhile, smokers in the control groups received text messages less frequently or were simply given quitting advice online or over the phone.
In the end, researchers noticed that text messages increased the chance of quitting. In fact, those who received frequent supportive and motivational text messages increased their success rate from 6% to 10%. Even those in the control group went from 4% to 5% over the course of six months.
The text messages weren’t anything complicated. Sample messages included:
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.
Or when a craving struck and participants texted that, they would receive a message back like, “take a walk” or “eat a little something.”
It’s a pretty ingenious idea, actually. It’s simple, interactive and provides constant support–something most people need when they are trying to quit smoking. We all know how important it is to have family and friends encouraging us, but let’s be honest, they are not always as accessible (and non-judgmental) as your iPhone.
For anyone trying to quit, this would certainly be worth trying. Some doctors are even texting their patients with ongoing messages of support, so be sure to ask yours if they would do that.