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SMS/Text messages to stop smoking
Public Health programs transmitted by mobile phone are effective for stopping smoking.
Encouragement and advice by text message are a useful aid for people who are trying to put an end to their addiction to smoking. According to a review of medical literature, which was published by Cochrane, smokers who benefitted from this type of coaching are in fact more likely to be abstinent after six months.
Researchers analysed the results of five studies on some 9000 people of all ages who wanted to stop smoking and who were registered for programs to stop smoking by cellphone. Every day they were sent several audio or text messages. In one of the studies, (the) participants received short videos showing (the) different ways to stop smoking.
The researchers (Auckland University, NZ) noted that the benefits of using these methods were twice as high as in a control group, even if results vary from one study to another. “Nowadays cellphones are part of daily life, particularly for young adults,” they point out. “It’s a way to transmit public health messages which happens to be effective, and probably cheaper than helplines”.
(The) Scientists are calling for new studies (to be carried out) to measure the effectiveness of smartphone applications which are currently being developed. Some are being created by pharmaceutical laboratories. One of them aims, for example, to motivate ex-smokers by informing them in real time of the health benefits of stopping. After inputting information about their smoking habits, subscribers receive daily messages indicating estimated life expectancy gain, improvement in heart attack risk and respiratory capacity, or even financial savings.
Another app reproduces the gaming process in the hope of encouraging quitters to hold fast, by giving them points for each cigarette that they don’t smoke. According to Christophe Leroux, spokesman for the ligue contre le cancer, “these tools are potentially interesting, but they only work for smokers who are already in the process of giving up, mainly those who regularly try to quit.”