LONDON (Reuters) - Smokers are twice as likely to quit when they get text messages urging them to stick to their goal of being smoke free compared with those who receive texts with no motivational messages, a British study has found.
Experts say the "txt2stop" trial, which is the first such study to verify quit rates using biochemical testing, may offer a cheap and easy way to improve levels of health by increasing the number of people who give up smoking.
With rates of smoking rising in many developing countries and tobacco predicted to kill 8 million people a year by 2030, the researchers said their findings could be translated into a potentially powerful public health measure.
"To scale up the txt2stop intervention for delivery at a national or international level would be technically easy," said Caroline Free of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the study and published it in The Lancet journal.
She said the scheme may need some adaptation, translation into other languages, and local evaluation before it is used in other populations, but added that it is simple, cheap and "likely to be highly cost-effective."
Tobacco kills up to half its users and is described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced."
It causes lung cancer, which is often fatal, and other chronic respiratory diseases. It is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, the world's number one killers.