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World first Txt2Quit service targets young smokers

17 June 2008 EMBARGO 12.01am Media Statement

World first Txt2Quit service targets young smokers

A new free interactive text message service to help smokers kick their habit has been welcomed by Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor.

Txt2Quit, which kicks off today, is a world-first 26-week long support service run through the government funded national freephone Quitline. Participants receive regular, personalised text messages to help them through their quitting journey. The service is targeted at getting young people to quit smoking.

Mr O’Connor said trials of the service found that it more than doubled a young person’s chance of successfully quitting smoking six weeks into the programme.

“The Txt2Quit service is the latest in a long line of innovative projects recently introduced to combat smoking in our country,” Mr O’Connor said.

Other initiatives included banning smoking in indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants and increasing access to subsidised nicotine replacement therapy products.

“The 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey found smoking rates were highest amongst 15-34 year olds. This new Txt2Quit service is aimed at helping them to quit smoking.

“Other surveys have found that more than 70% of youth smokers would not smoke if they had their lives over again so we need to do all we can to help them quit,” Mr O’Connor said.

Results released last month from the Ministry of Health’s 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey showed New Zealand’s smoking prevalence was at a record low of 19.9 per cent for current smokers (aged 15 years and over).

“This means our smoking rates are at their lowest level ever since monitoring of tobacco use began more than 30 years ago. However, I am determined to up the ante in our fight to further cut smoking rates.”

“Tobacco control is a high priority for this Labour-led government. In this year’s Budget we committed an additional $32 million over the next four years to support renewed efforts aimed at further reducing smoking rates and the number of teens taking up smoking.

“We can and will make even faster progress towards achieving our goal of a smokefree New Zealand,” said Mr O’Connor.

Smokers can register for the new Txt2Quit service by going to the website www.txt2quit.org.nz or by calling the Quitline on 0800 778 778.

ends

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