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