Jun 19, 2014 11:24 PM EDT
Smokers who participate in a simple text messaging program are more than twice as likely to quit smoking, according to a recent study reported by Reuters.
Researchers from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University found that 11 percent of smokers who used "Text2Quit" ended up smoke-free after a six-month trial. That compared to 5 percent of those who got supportive literature.
"There are a number of proven strategies out there for quitting smoking, and now we have growing evidence that text messaging is another option for quitting," Lorien Abroms, lead author of the study and a behavioral scientist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., told Reuters.
The texting program encourages smokers to quit by sending them texts that tells them how much money they could save if they stopped smoking, or provides advice on adhering to smoking cessation drugs.
For the study, researchers recruited more than 500 people smokers via the Internet and randomly selected half of them to receive text messages from the program Text2Quit, while the others got self-help material aimed at getting them to quit, ABC News reported.
Participants were required to submit saliva tests to see if they had smoke a cigarette during the study.
Users of Text2Quit can also text keywords such as "CRAVE" and get back a tailored response, like a tip or a trivia game, to keep their mind off smoking. They could text "SMOKED" to indicate they have relapsed and need tips on getting back on track.
"This is a tool that people are regularly using, in touch with, living their lives attached to," Abroms said, according to ABC News. "Given how widespread mobile phone use is, it's great we can take advantage of it to help people quit smoking."
Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 American's per year, with second-hand smoke killing an estimated 41,000 people, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently more than 75,000 people in the United States have enrolled in the Text2Quit program through quit lines.
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