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Mobile Phone Text Messaging Interventions Help Adults Who Smoke Quit

A person looks at a smartphone.The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends mobile phone text messaging interventions for tobacco smoking cessation to increase the number of adults who successfully quit. Evidence shows meaningful increases in the number of adults who successfully quit smoking, six or more months following intervention. This recommendation updates and replaces the 2011 CPSTF recommendation for this intervention approach.

A team of specialists in systematic review methods and tobacco cessation research, practice, and policy selected and evaluated the following published review:

Whittaker R, McRobbie H, Bullen C, Rodgers A, Gu Y, Dobson R. Mobile phone text messaging and app-based interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019;10(10):CD006611. Available from URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD006611.pub5.

What are mobile phone text messaging interventions for tobacco cessation?

Mobile phone text messaging interventions deliver evidence-based information, strategies, and behavioral support directly to people who want to quit smoking or using tobacco. Automated text messages support quit attempts and may be one or more of the following:

  • Tailored for individuals based on computer algorithms
  • Interactive and capable of providing on-demand text responses or behavioral support
  • Developed or adapted for specific populations and communities

Interventions may be used with other interventions (e.g., internet-based cessation services), or offered with FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications. All CPSTF recommendations for tobacco cessation interventions are online.

Why is this important?

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Each year, it is responsible for over 480,000 deaths in our country.1 While U.S. smoking prevalence is the lowest it has been in more than a half century, 34 million adults still smoke.2 Science has documented the health harms caused by smoking, and we also know that quitting smoking can improve health. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of premature death, improves health, and enhances an individual’s quality of life.3 Quitting lowers the risk for 12 types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and adverse reproductive health outcomes.3

Almost all adults in America (96%) own a mobile phone of some kind, and 81% own a smartphone.4 While steps may be taken to ensure equitable access to mobile technology, this approach expands the availability of services and resources to help individuals quit using tobacco.

For More Information:

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Printed with corrections, January 2014. Available from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK179276/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK179276.pdf [accessed 3/12/21].

2 Cornelius ME, Wang TW, Jamal A, Loretan CG, Neff LJ. Tobacco product use among adults — United States, 2019. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2020;69:1736–42. Available from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6946a4.htm [accessed 3/12/21].

3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2020. Available from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2020-smoking-cessation/index.html [accessed 3/11/2021].

4 Pew Research Center. Demographics of mobile device ownership and adoption in the United States. Washington, DC: 2019. Available from URL: www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/ [accessed 3/12/21].