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Text messaging program in China helps smokers quit

China has some of the highest numbers of smokers compared to any other country and accounts for over 40 percent of total cigarette consumption worldwide.

Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce the health risks associated with smoking including lung cancer and heart disease.

But in China, programs and services that provide help with quitting are not readily available even with the proven success of smoking cessation programs in other areas of the world.

Researchers from the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in China conducted a study to test the effectiveness of an inexpensive cessation intervention program using text messages.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Medicine, and the results show that mobile phone interventions could be an effective method to help smokers quit.

1,369 smokers across 30 cities and provinces in China took part in a text-based intervention program.

The participants were randomly split into groups, and either received a high-frequency of messages, low-frequency text-messages, or text messages entirely unrelated to smoking or quitting.

For 12 weeks, participants in the high and low-frequency groups received text messages that encouraged self-efficacy or the belief in the ability to stop smoking and provided support for the quitting process.

After the text message program was done, 6.5 percent of the participants in the high-frequency messaging group successfully quit smoking along with six percent of the participants in the low-frequency group.

Even though the percentages of quitters were low, the results of the study are encouraging.

The researchers dubbed their cessation method the “Happy Quit” intervention and said that wide-scale use of the program in China could have great potential for reducing smoking and health risks.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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