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Text Messages Could Help You Stop Smoking

To break a smoking habit, supportive text messages could double your chances of quitting, says a new study.

Can't seem to quit smoking? Maybe the answer has been in your pocket all along. (No, we're not talking about the pack of cigarettes.)

According to a Cochrane review of recent research, you cell phone—and more specifically, supportive messages sent by text—could actually double your chance of quitting. Out of over 9,000 people involved in five studies, smokers who received text messages with motivational messages and quitting advice throughout the day had a 6 to 10 percent chance of breaking their habit over six months, compared to 4 to 5 percent for others.

This may seem low, but remember: only 5 percent of smokers quit on their first try.

The good news is that even if you can’t quit cold turkey, smoking less also has its benefits. A 40-year study, published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that people who cut back on smoking—but didn’t quit entirely—were 15 percent less likely to die early (compared to 22 percent for quitters). Heavy smokers who cut back gained the most.

If you’re concerned about your health—or that of someone you care about—there are several tools available now to help you quit.

  • SmokefreeTXT: This mobile service is designed for young adults and provides 24/7 encouragement and tips to help smokers break the habit.
  • NHS Quit Smoking app: Available for iPhone or iPod Touch, this app not only provides daily support, it also keeps track of how much money you are saving by not smoking and how many days you’ve been smoke-free.
  • Livestrong MyQuit Coach Lite app: This physician-approved app provides motivation, and lets you set up a personalized quitting plan.
  • Your friends and family: Build your own real-life support network by asking your friends and family to send you encouraging text messages throughout the day.
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