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Using SMS Messaging to Help People Quit Smoking

Using SMS Messaging to Help People Quit Smoking

In 1948 smoking was the norm. 82% of men in Great Britain smoked cigarettes or cigars. About 41% of women smoked cigarettes that year too, according to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Those percentages have dropped significantly down to an average of 19% of the entire population. Some age groups are higher than others, and women still smoke less than men. But it’s still nearly 12 million people.

And there’s no shortage of organisations trying to help those remaining practitioners quit smoking. These include groups that use text messaging as a means of supporting smokers while they try to quit. There’s quite a lot of evidence that text messaging can help people break bad habits, or make positive improvements in their lives. Here’s one example from George Washington University.

The programme, called Text2Quit, consisted of “automated, personalised, and interactive” text messages. The messages contained advice, support and reminders about different ways people could avoid smoking. The study found that 11.1% of participants were able to successfully stop smoking. That may not seem like much. But when compared to the 5% of people who succeeded in the control group (who didn’t receive the messages), the text messages more than doubled the amount of people who quit.

Britain’s Smokefree.com offers something similar in their Quit Kit. Smokers who sign up have the option of getting support via text message. The government has set goals for reducing smoking among the population (via programmes like Smokefree). By the end of 2015 they want to see 18.5% or fewer adult Britain’s smoking. And they’ve nearly reached that goal already according to ASH. (Here is a link to Smokefree’s comprehensive Resource Centre)

This is all great news for smokers who want to quit, but it’s also good news for any organisation looking for better ways to support their members. Whether you’re trying to help people lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, or stay in school you might want to think about using SMS messaging. So Health Clubs are closely linked to this topic and you may therefore wish to take a look at our Health Club SMS Guide.

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