Interactive and persuasive text messages received on your phone can motivate you to kick the butt, says a new study which found that more than 11 percent of smokers who used a text-messaging programme to help them quit did so.

The subjects remained smoke-free at the end of a sixmonth study as compared to just five percent of controls, according to researchers at George Washington University. “Text messages seem to give smokers the constant reminders they need to stay focused on quitting,” said Lorien C. Abroms, lead author of the study.

Text-messaging programmes, like “Text2Quit” work by sending advice, reminders and tips that help smokers resist the craving for a cigarette and stick to a quit date. More than 75,000 people in the United States have enrolled in the “Text2Quit” programme and enrollment is on the rise.

Abroms and her colleagues recruited 503 smokers on the internet and randomised them to receive either a text-messaging programme called “Text2Quit” or selfhelp material aimed at getting smokers to quit. The text messages in the “Text2Quit” programme are interactive and give smokers advice but they also allow participants to ask for more help or to reset a quit date if they need more time.

Smokers who have trouble fighting off an urge can text in and get a tip or a game that might help distract them until the craving goes away, Abroms said. At the end of six months, the researchers found that people using the text-messaging programme had a much higher likelihood of quitting compared to the control group. The text-messaging programmes can provide an important boost for people struggling with a tobacco habit, the study concluded.

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