New Studies Show that SMS Helps You Stop Smoking


A text a day keeps the cravings away. Two new studies show that text-messaging can “measure and intervene in urges people have during smoking cessation programs.”

Put simply, text messages help people stop smoking.

Scientists at the University of Oregon and UCLA used fMRI on 27 smokers to map the areas of the brain where they control their impulses. They then asked the smokers to text in their habits over the following three weeks, as the smokers struggled to quit.

The studies found that real-time texting dramatically increases the accuracy of people’s reporting, and can serve as an effective tool for helping them quit altogether. According to the report:

Text messaging may be an ideal delivery mechanism for tailored interventions because it is low-cost, most people already possess the existing hardware and the messages can be delivered near-instantaneously into real world situations.

Mobile Commons has run a number of smoking cessation campaigns with state and local agencies, such as the New York City Department of Health and the Louisville Department of Health. We’ve already seen that heavy smokers who receive text messages are more than twice as likely to quit than those who do not (53% vs. 25%). [New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Text Messaging Randomized Control Trial]

The report hints at a future world of radical targeting – where everyone’s ability to resist temptation is calibrated and accounted for. Similarly, though on a slightly less futuristic note, part of what makes our campaigns so effective is that messages are scheduled according to each individual’s personal quit date.

We offer the same functionality to any of our customers, out of the box; it’s easy to set up and easy to use. Whether you need to remember to take your medication or book a venue for your wedding, a personalized text message serves as a fantastic reminder tool. Using personalized scheduling, our customers have created behavior modification campaigns ranging from poison safety to sexual health to pet care.

If your organization wants to create a similar campaign, we’d love to hear from you. You can set up a similar program without any development. Just email us at and we’ll guide you through the best practices.

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