Want to Quit Smoking? Just Start Texting

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Forget about the patch or that terrible tasting nicotine chewing gum; people looking to break a cigarettes habit might find success by texting.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, smokers who used a texting anti-smoking program were two times more likely to break the habit.


Known as “Text2Quit,” the new texting program sends smokers encouraging text messages throughout the day. Smokers receive texts that highlight the benefits of quitting, like how much money they could save if they stopped buying cigarettes. Users are also asked to pick a future quit date. They receive five supportive texts on the target quit date, then another two per day the following week. The frequency of text messages slowly tapers off to three and then one per week.

Smokers can also text certain keywords when they’re in need of support. When cravings hit, users can text the word “CRAVE” and receive tips for taking the mental focus off of smoking. In the event of a relapse, texting the word “SMOKED” will allow the user to pick a new quit date and receive tips to get the anti-smoking program back on track.

Also Read: A Shocking Link Between E-Cigarettes and Mental Illness

The Research Behind Text2Quit

Lorien Abroms, of George Washington University, both led the study and developed the texting program. Her research team worked with a group of approximately 500 smokers who were trying to quit. Half of the group was given access to the Text2Quit program, while the other half were not. After six months, more than 11 percent of the Text2Quit smokers managed to quit, compared to only 5 percent of those not using the program.

…more than 11 percent of the Text2Quit smokers managed to quit, compared to only 5 percent of those not using the program.

The study took things much further than previous research, conducting randomized saliva tests in order to make sure participants had not lied about smoking cigarettes. Previous studies took participants at their word, never knowing for sure if anyone had relapsed.

What’s the Texting/Smoking Connection?

In a way, the Text2Quit program hopes to break an addiction by using an addiction. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states there are more than 42 million smokers in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, 90 percent of all American adults have a cell phone and 81 percent of all cell phone users send and receive text messages.

Considering most adults are “addicted” to their cell phones, why not use technology as a way to combat smoking? The Text2Quit program could become much more than a tech-friendly tool…it could be a lifesaver.

Can you really be addicted to texting? Learn more about Internet addiction and what treatment options are available for behavioral disorders.

Photo Source: pixabay

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