Text-Messaging Campaigns Effective In Preventing, Curbing Teen Vaping: Study

According to the findings of a new study, sending automated text messages as part of a coordinated campaign appears to be an effective strategy to help encourage young adults to quit vaping.

The Truth Initiative’s “This is Quitting” text message program helped to increase vaping quit rates among teens and young adults by 40%, demonstrating the effectiveness of texting to reach these users, according to the findings published last month in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers looked at 2,588 young adult e-cigarette users between the ages of 18 and 24, focusing on two parallel groups using a double-blind, individually randomized clinical trial conducted December 2019 to November 2020. The study included users who owned a mobile phone with an active text message plan, who reported past 30-day e-cigarette use, and were interested in quitting vaping.

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Participants were recruited via social media ads, and interventions were delivered via text message, including a “This is Quitting” fully automated text message program designed to curb vaping. The texts delivered social support, as well as cognitive and behavioral coping skills to help young adults stop using e-cigarettes.

The program is based on the idea that 99% of young people own mobile phones and prefer text messaging as a primary form of communication. Users received regular text messages that monitored vaping habits, reminding them of triggers that may lead to vaping, such as stress, and encouraging them to stop vaping by providing advice and support.

Assessments for vaping and quitting were completed via website or mobile phone. Follow-up was conducted at one and seven months after the program began and self-reported abstinence was used to determine quit rates. Non-responders were counted as vaping.

Seven months after the program began, 24% of young adults in the text intervention group had stopped vaping. Comparatively, about 18% of young adults in the non-intervention group had quit vaping.

About 80% of users who did not participate in the vaping cessation program continued to use e-cigarettes.

“Results of this randomized clinical trial demonstrated that a tailored and interactive text message intervention was effective in promoting vaping cessation among young adults,” the researchers concluded. “These results establish a benchmark of intervention effectiveness.”

E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among young adults and teens. This age group has been inundated in recent years with ads and marketing across social media and other avenues aimed at creating new e-cigarette users, which has resulted in a new generation of Americans addicted to nicotine.

Teens are more likely to try vaping when non-traditional and candy-like flavors are available, previous research has shown. In addition, using flavored e-cigarettes increases the risk a teen may try smoking tobacco cigarettes later in life, which creates new nicotine users for a lifetime.

Quitting e-cigarettes is often much harder than quitting tobacco cigarettes, according to previous studies. However, despite the significant risks vaping poses to teens and the high use rates, few vaping cessation interventions are available.

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