Convincing Chinese smokers to kick the habit—by text

Among smokers receiving a 12-week-long mobile phone-based intervention encouraging them to quit, up to 6.5% of participants stopped smoking by the end of the study, according to a research article published this week in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Jinsong Tang of the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in China, and colleagues. As noted by the authors, the so-called “Happy Quit” intervention could have far greater reach and higher feasibility than in-person treatments, so it has great potential to improve population health and should be considered for large-scale use in China.

China has the highest global prevalence of cigarette smokers, accounting for more than 40% of the total cigarette consumption in the world. Smoking cessation remains the single most effective strategy for preventing lung cancer and other serious smoking-related health conditions, but the availability of cessation services in China is extremely limited. Because text messaging interventions for quitting smoking have proven cost-effective in other countries, Tang and colleagues tested whether such an approach would work in China. The randomized controlled trial was carried out across 30 cities and provinces in China from August 2016 to May 2017.

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