Incessant text messaging is easily one of the worst traits a person can have, but incessant smoking is still much worse. Research is now showing that the lesser of these two evils can help you kick the nicotine habit. Two related studies at the University of Oregon reveal that texting has an effect on the brain that suppresses the urge to smoke.
Researchers mapped the brains of 27 “heavy smokers” (who came courtesy of recruitment efforts from the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program) and specifically looked at where people battle and succumb to impulses. The experiment measured participants’ response inhibition while scanning their brain activity.
The second part of the study looked into actual methods of diminishing those impulses to smoke. “Research participants were prompted by eight text messages per day for three weeks to document their ongoing cravings, mood, and cigarette use.” They answered questions like how many cigarettes they’d had, and how intense their cravings were.
After re-taking the initial test and once again assessing brain activity, researchers determined that engaging the brain in specific areas is key to quitting. Better yet, turning to text is as effective as alternative devices that record a person’s progress.
Seeing as just about everyone has a text-enabled device at their fingertips, kicking the habit may have just gotten a little easier – and more affordable. By documenting and texting the process, a smoker is more liable to stick to a program. The study also revealed that prompting and monitoring participants via text regularly helps people resist the urge to smoke. You might start seeing a lot more faces buried in their phones on the streets, but it’s a lot better than smoke-filled sidewalks.