If there is one simple truth that everyone who has ever picked up a cigarette knows, it's this: quitting is a huge pain in the ass. Anyone who has ever attempted and failed can attest to that, and everyone who has attempted and succeeded knows that people get through it in unique ways.
The National Cancer Institute, with the help of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, is launching a program to give teens one more option if they want to kick the habit.
The program, called SmokefreeTXT, is a new service that will help teens by sending them useful texts before, during and after they take their last drag.
Teens can sign up by texting QUIT to IQUIT (47848) from their mobile device, or heading to the website and signing up there. The service is free, but they suggest that you think twice about signing up if you don't have a texting plan. Once you answer a couple basic questions, you will be officially enrolled in the program.
Participants then select their "quit date," and can receive messages up to a month before that deadline. SmokefreeTXT will continue to send encouraging messages for a month and a half after the quit date, and may also send follow-up texts a couple months down the road.
According to the NCI 20% of American teens are smokers, and that first 6 weeks after quitting is the hardest time.
Here are some sample texts that participants might receive:
Wow, 2 weeks smokefree! Have you rewarded yourself for not smoking? Use your extra cash for that new app, music, movie, or concert tickets.
What makes you wanna smoke? Stress? Boredom? Parties? Write down your top 3 smoking triggers. Knowing ur triggers is the only way to avoid them!
Nicotine is just as addictive as heroin or cocaine. It tricks your mind & body into thinking you need it. Good thing you know you don't.
In between texts from the program, you can send your own if you're feeling particularly stressed or tempted:
It's tough to quit smoking. And it's really tough to quit when you factor in peer pressure and that carefree attitude that comes with youth. Could some frequent texts really help a 16-year-old kid stop smoking? Who knows. But it sure doesn't hurt to have someone point out that you're doing it right - even if that person is just an automated text.