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On Kick Butts Day, Text Message Could Be Motivation to Quit Smoking

A new text messaging service could help people quit smoking in three Oregon counties. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
A new text messaging service could help people quit smoking in three Oregon counties. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
March 16, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Today is Kick Butts Day, and the next time your phone dings, you could be reading the text message that inspires you to stop smoking.

Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization is offering a free service - aside from standard messaging rates - called Care Messaging, which sends texts to tobacco users to motivate them to stop. Nancy Knopf, community health partnership manager for Columbia Pacific, said the service is an easy-to-use approach to changing behavior.

"The research has shown that people who use a text-messaging service, they actually respond to and are more honest about what's going on as far as their commitment level, and their ability to actually stop and/or reduce tobacco use," she said.

The service is available to Columbia Pacific members in Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties.

According to Oregon Health Authority data from 2014, tobacco use in all three counties was at or above the state average for adults. That same year, there were more than 7,000 tobacco-related deaths across Oregon.

Users of Care Messaging send information about themselves so that the service can provide responses tailored to their health needs. Knopf said the program lasts for 12 weeks and people receive two to three messages a week. She said most people have access to the service, including those with low income and the homeless.

"There's research that shows that, yes, most people have cell phones and that they have text-messaging capability," she said, "and that they can afford that, which makes it easy for someone to participate in a program like this."

Members without a cell phone may qualify for a free phone with unlimited texting through Columbia Pacific's partnership with SafeLink. Knopf said the service also is available in Spanish. People can enroll by texting "quit" to 503-831-9124.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR