Texting Becomes The Latest Tool to Help Teens Quit Smoking

It looks like mobile has the power to get the monkey off your back, assuming you’re a mobile phone-using teenager who smokes.

With a new year upon us and a plethora of resolutions now in effect, the drive to drop the bad habit of smoking is one of the biggest annual aspirations of millions of Americans. But in 2012, younger smokers will have an additional aide to cushion their laudable efforts to quit.

The National Cancer Institute is rolling out a new program dubbed Smokefree T-X-T. According to CNN, it’s a free text message service “that provides 24 hour encouragement, advice, and tips to teens trying to quit smoking.”

And it’s easy. Teens sign up and select a reasonable date to quit. After that, text messages timed to their selected quit date are sent on a regular basis. Following their quit date, they will continue to receive texts for up to six weeks.

“With 75 percent of youths between the ages of 12 and 17 owning a cell phone, there is immense potential for mobile technologies to affect health awareness and behavior change among teens,” says Erik Augustson, a behavioral scientist in NCI’s Tobacco Control Research Branch.

According to experts who have guided smokers through non-smoking and related recovery programs in the past, the first six weeks of a new effort to quit smoking are critical to the overall effort. But getting youngsters to quit early is a vitally important goal in light of the future health damage that can be prevented.

The National Cancer Institute says 20% of American teens are smokers “and most will continue to smoke as they age.”