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Mobile phone messages remind smokers to quit

SMS messages are diverting smokers attention away from tobacco cravings

(Keystone Archive)

Smokers trying to kick the habit can now turn to their mobile phones for encouragement. A new programme, launched in canton Bern, sends messages to smokers whenever they have a craving for a cigarette.

When the urge to light up becomes too strong, smokers need send only a one-word message from their mobile phone and within seconds they receive a reply, urging them to resist the temptation.

The programme was started in January and is already receiving around 400 appeals daily from young smokers. "It's a warning that comes just when it's needed," says programme coordinator, Karin Steinmann.

The programme sends out 60 different messages at random. One says: "Divert your thoughts instead of smoking. Which three people would you most like to be stranded on a desert island with?"

The preventative campaign called EMOX is aimed at young smokers who traditionally have not responded to billboards and written material.

The head of the Swiss federal anti-smoking programme, Patrick Vuilleme, says the campaign has been a success because "The mobile phone is very important to young people, it's a way of appearing adult."

His comments are supported by a study carried out in Britain last year, in which researchers found that a rise in the popularity of the mobile phone had lead to a reduction in smoking, because teenagers could not afford both.

At 20 centimes a message, the Swiss programme is cheaper than a cigarette and does not damage your health.

swissinfo with agencies


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