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NEWS RELEASE · 17th January 2011
Ministry of Health Services
There were millions of texts sent between cellphones last year by British Columbians, but for those trying to quit smoking this year the most relevant mobile messages they receive could be quit tips and support now available through QuitNow by TXT.

"QuitNow by TXT is an easy, free service that provides quit information at your fingertips anywhere you go so you are supported to quit smoking every step of the way," said Terry Lake, parliamentary secretary for health promotion. "Anytime is a great time to quit smoking, but National Non-Smoking Week provides the perfect opportunity for people who smoke to try new and innovative quit methods available at QuitNow.ca."

The 14-week, mobile-texting service is supported through the BC Lung Association's QuitNow Services, and available to all B.C. residents. The program offers support to help people who smoke to quit or stay tobacco-free. Users can opt in to the service by registering online or by mobile phone to start receiving a series of messages straight to their cellphones.

Text messages are tailored to each user's stage of quitting to help them prepare to quit, cope with cravings, withdrawal and stress, identify quit tips and aids and stay motivated. The program is based on users setting a quit date, since text messages are tailored to where users are in the quitting process. Anyone can sign up by going to: www.quitnow.ca/quitnow_by_txt or by texting "JOIN" to 654321.

While B.C. has the lowest smoking in Canada at 14.9 per cent, there are approximately 550,000 British Columbians who smoke.

"We know that support buddies play an integral role in helping their family member or friend quit smoking, but they usually can't be with them all of the time. With QuitNow by TXT, people trying to quit can have a support system that goes wherever they do," said Jack Boomer, director of QuitNow Services. "QuitNow by TXT can help someone quit smoking no matter what stage they are at, and the service can be customized by the user to deliver text messages when they want."

Messages are tailored to the different stages of the quitting process as follows:

* Pre-quit phase - two weeks of daily messages to help prepare for the quit (up to 22 messages).
* Quit day - three messages.
* Active Quit phase - one month of daily messages to guide, support and motivate through active phase (up to 57 messages).
* Maintenance phase - two months of weekly messages to help avoid and deal with slips and relapse (up to 26 messages).
* For extra support and dealing with cravings users can text key words such as "crave" or "alcohol" to receive immediate supportive messages day or night (up to 80 messages).

National Non-Smoking Week promotes ways to lead smoke-free lives and runs from January 16-22. Approximately 37,000 Canadians are expected to die this year from tobacco-related causes, including more than 1,000 from second-hand smoke.

The Province is currently reviewing cessation products, including non- prescription nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and prescription drugs. The review is anticipated to be completed in 2011.

QuitNow is supported by grant funding from the Province of British Columbia and organized by the BC Lung Association. For more information go to: www.quitnow.ca