Text messages help smoker to quit
A Waikato man has quit smoking using text messaging, thanks to a world-first clinical trial to help young smokers kick the habit.
Mike Lawrence, from Morrinsville, took his first puff when he was aged 14. Now at 27, the avid touch rugby player decided to quit after smoking started to affect his fitness and health.
Young adults have the highest smoking rates, but the lowest uptake of stop smoking programmes. They also have the highest proportion of mobile phones compared with other age groups, and are prolific users of text messaging.
Dr Anthony Rodgers, co-director of the clinical trials research unit at Auckland University, came up with the idea of using text messaging to target those most at risk.
The programme is called Stomp, the stop smoking with mobile phones trial.
Dr Rodgers said the idea was to distract people and give them something else to do with their hands at the moment they most felt like smoking.
Participants get a month's free text messaging, and when they feel the need to smoke they can access personalised messages.
Mr Lawrence said he receives about five encouraging messages a day, ranging from sports trivia to stories of other people's quitting experiences. In the lead-up to his "quit day" he received positive messages as preparation.
Mr Lawrence said he appreciated the positive aspect of the programme.
"Rather than warning you about the health consequences of smoking, the messages are positive," he said.
"They make you think, `hey, I can do it'."
So far the trial includes more than 700 participants from around the country. Dr Rodgers hopes to increase that to around 1700.
The programme is only two months into clinical trials. It is too early for concrete results, but Dr Rodgers said he had already heard of many success stories.
Participants have the opportunity to use a "quit buddy". "Funnily enough, most want a quit buddy of the opposite sex.
"We don't mind being a dating agency â€“- whatever it takes to distract them from lighting up."
Stomp is funded by the National Heart Foundation, with Vodafone supplying the free airtime. Smokers who own Vodafone mobiles and want to quit can register for the trial at www.stomp.co.nz, or by calling 321, or texting 3211.