Case Study: New York City Department of Health

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The New York City Department of Health uses text messaging to help people quit smoking. Twice as many heavy smokers quit with text message support.

Challenge

How do you provide personalized support for people trying to change everyday behaviors?

The New York City Department of Health wanted to promote healthier lifestyles by helping people quit smoking. Behavior change is one of the most difficult but vital programs a health organization can provide. People may be filled with good intentions at the doctor’s office, but they can easily fall back into bad habits once they leave. The NYC Department of Health wanted to provide support and resources to people trying to quit smoking in a discrete, immediate, and personalized way.

Solution

Launch a text message program to help smokers quit and stay smokefree.

The NYC Department of Health worked with Mobile Commons to launch an educational campaign that sends text message reminders and motivational support to smokers to help them quit smoking and improve quit rates among adults. The NYC Department of Health asked smokers to opt in to a smoking cessation text messaging trial to help them overcome urges and defeat their triggers. The texts were targeted to each individual’s target quit date and included encouraging messages and tips on how to overcome cravings.

Results

Heavy smokers were twice as likely to quit with text message support.

After six weeks, the smoking cessation trial saw extraordinary results:

  • Among 26-35 year olds, 47% of smokers who received text messages successfully quit, compared to 35% in the control group.
  • Among males, 43% successfully quit after receiving text messages, compared to 29% in the control group.
  • Most impressively, among heavy smokers, 53% successfully quit after receiving texts, compared to 25% in the control group.

Twice as many heavy smokers were able to quit smoking completely as a result of receiving text message support. These results proved that hard-hitting educational programs like this one are effective in reducing smoking initiation among youths and increasing smoking cessation among adults. As a result of this program’s success, Mobile Commons secured six additional contracts to support smoking cessation programs worldwide.

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