Text4health Takes AIM at Tobacco Use

Published Online: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A government task force focused on mobile phones and public health launched 2 text-messaging services that target smoking. The programs, SmokeFreeTXT and QuitNowTXT, were hatched by Text4Health, an initiative of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leverages HHS’ data to create libraries of texts containing evidence-based health information.

SmokeFreeTXT engages teens with questions and tips designed to help them ride out cigarette cravings. For example, one message reads: “What makes you wanna smoke? Stress? Boredom? Parties? Write down your top 3 smoking triggers. Knowing ur triggers is the only way to avoid them!” Pharmacists who provide smoking cessation counseling can encourage young adults to enroll for the free service at http://phrmcyt.ms/mRX7vv.

Bigger plans are in store for the second program, QuitNowTXT. Now a library of smoking cessation tips, motivational messages, and facts, QuitNowTXT will become the foundation of an interactive service for patients in the United States and abroad.

Text messages are a perfect medium for implementing smoking cessation programs on a global scale, according to HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.

“Text messaging is widely available, inexpensive, and allows for immediate delivery of cessation information,” said Park.

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