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NCI Press Release

NCI launches smoking cessation support for teens:

  • Posted: December 2, 2011

A new effort to help teens quit smoking will use one of today’s teen’s most constant companions—the mobile phone.  Developed by smoking cessation experts, SmokefreeTXT is a free text message cessation service that provides 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to teens trying to quit smoking. The initiative is led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Picture of iphone with 3 text messages encouraging teens to stay off cigarettes.Once they sign up, teens receive text messages timed according to their selected quit date. Following their quit date, they will continue receiving texts for up to six weeks—a critical piece of the SmokefreeTXT service, as research shows that cessation support continues to be important beyond the first few weeks of quitting. Teens can sign up online at teen.smokefree.gov or text QUIT to iQUIT (47848).

Nearly 20 percent of teens are current smokers, and most will continue smoking into adulthood unless efforts are made to help them quit now. Many teens want to quit, but few use evidence-based cessation resources to support their quit attempts. By connecting with teen smokers on their mobile phones, NCI hopes to more effectively engage young people in quitting with proven cessation tools and strategies.

SmokefreeTXT is a key component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to develop mobile health programs and is one of the core features of the new Smokefree Teen initiative (teen.smokefree.gov), an extension of NCI’s smoking cessation website, smokefree.gov. Along with SmokefreeTXT, Smokefree Teen offers several social media pages to connect teens with cessation tools. In January 2012, Smokefree Teen will launch a free smartphone application, QuitSTART—an interactive quit guide for teens that delivers cessation and mood management tips, tracks cravings, and monitors quit attempts.

“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,” said Erik Augustson, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist in NCI’s Tobacco Control Research Branch.

To learn more about Smokefree Teen and SmokefreeTXT, visit http://teen.smokefree.gov.

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