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Texting program may help young adults quit vaping, study finds

While many young adults who vape have expressed a desire to quit, a texting-based cessation program has shown promise in helping them kick the habit. Photo by sarahj1/Pixabay
While many young adults who vape have expressed a desire to quit, a texting-based cessation program has shown promise in helping them kick the habit. Photo by sarahj1/Pixabay

May 17 (UPI) -- Young adults who participated in a text message-based campaign to encourage them to quit vaping were up to 40% more likely to drop the habit than those who were not part of the program, according to a study published Monday JAMA Internal Medicine.

Nearly one in four e-cigarette users age 18 to 24 who received text messages as part of the "This Is Quitting" program no longer was vaping seven months later, the data showed.

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More than 80% of those who did not participate in the vaping cessation initiative still were using the devices.

"Young people want to quit vaping and they want help to do it," study co-author Amanda L. Graham told UPI in an email.

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"This is Quitting as a freely available quit vaping program that young people can access easily by texting 'DITCHVAPE' to 88709," said Graham, chief of innovations for the Truth Initiative, an anti-smoking advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Up to 10% of young adults age 18 to 24 in the United States use e-cigarettes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

However, as many as 60% of adults who regularly use devices such as vaping pens want to quit, according to recent research.

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This is Quitting is an automated, tailored, interactive text messaging-based program designed specifically for young people based on the idea that "99% of young adults own mobile phones and prefer text messaging," Graham said.

The program has been developed with support from the Truth Initiative, she said.

E-cigarette users who enroll in the program receive regular text messages to monitor vaping habits, remind them of certain "triggers" that may lead to vaping -- such as stress -- and encourage them to stop vaping by providing advice and support.

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For this study, the researchers enrolled nearly 2,600 young adults ages 18 to 24 in the United States, all of whom were identified as e-cigarette users.

Just over 82% of the study participants reported that they vaped within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning.

All study participants received monthly text messages assessing their e-cigarette use and attempts to quit.

However, those who were part of the This Is Quitting program received more intensive messages, according to the researchers.

Those not ready to quit at the start of the study received four weeks of messages "focused on building skills and confidence," for vaping cessation.

Users who set a quit date received messages for one week preceding their date and for eight weeks afterward that included encouragement and support, training in quitting techniques, coping strategies and information about the risks of vaping.

They also were provided with information about nicotine replacement therapy, according to the researchers.

After seven months, just over 24% of the roughly 1,300 participants in the This Is Quitting program reported abstinence from vaping over the past 30 days.

Just under 19% of the study participants who did not receive the This Is Quitting messaging indicated that they had not vaped in the past 30 days.

"Clinicians, researchers, policymakers and especially parents have been desperate to find a way to help their children quit vaping for several years now," Graham said.

"This individually tailored, easily accessible and anonymous text message program was effective in promoting vaping abstinence among a broad range of young e-cigarette users, including those with higher levels of nicotine dependence and other substance use," she said.

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