London: Want to see your loved ones quit smoking? Then, send them motivational text messages, as they double their chances of giving up the habit, scientists say.
A British Medical Research Council study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that participants were twice as likely to banish their habit after receiving messages designed to encourage quitting.
Dr Caroline Free, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who led the "txt2stop" trial, said: "Text messages are a very convenient way for smokers to receive support to quit.
"People described txt2stop as being like having a `friend` encouraging them or an `angel on their shoulder`. It helped people resist the temptation to smoke," Dr Free was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
The trial tested the effects of motivational messages designed to encourage quitting on almost 3,000 smokers.
The messages, designed by experts with the help of smokers, provided encouragement up to "quit day", advice on keeping off weight while quitting, and help with craving.
For example, one message read: "This is it! – QUIT DAY, throw away all your fags. TODAY is the start of being QUIT forever, you can do it!"
Another, focusing on craving, read: "Cravings last less than five minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over."
In the trial, randomly selected smokers received five text messages a day for five weeks, followed by three per week for the next six months.
People were able to receive instant messages at times of need by texting the word "crave" or "lapse".