Among smokers receiving a 12-week-long mobile phone-based intervention encouraging them to quit, up to 6.5% of participants stopped smoking by the end of the study, according to a research article published in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Jinsong Tang of the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in China, and colleagues.
As noted by the authors, the so-called “Happy Quit” intervention could have far greater reach and higher feasibility than in-person treatments, so it has great potential to improve population health and should be considered for large-scale use in China.
China has the highest global prevalence of cigarette smokers, accounting for more than 40% of the total cigarette consumption in the world. Smoking cessation remains the single most effective strategy for preventing lung cancer and other serious smoking-related health conditions, but the availability of cessation services in China is extremely limited.
A total of 1,369 adult smokers with the intention to quit smoking were recruited and randomly assigned to a 12-week intervention consisting of either high-frequency messaging or low-frequency messaging, or to a control group that received text messages unrelated to quitting.
The intervention consisted of text messages that were based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy and aimed at improving self-efficacy and behavioural capability for quitting.
Although the proportion of smokers quitting was low overall, participants who received high-frequency or low-frequency messaging were significantly more likely to quit smoking than the controls.