Health dept. using text messages to help teen smokers quit

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health has launched a new campaign aimed at helping young smokers quit the habit.

The agency announced Thursday the details of the Text to be an Ex (T2BX) program, which offers support and education for teenagers through text messages.

“Rhode Island has the second lowest teen smoking rate,” said Director of Health, Michael Fine M.D. in a statement. “In order to get that number to zero, we need to focus on the teens who need it most and help them quit in ways that work for them. T2BX is exactly that.”

A teen smoker looking to quit can enter the program by texting “START” to the number 88206. An automated system will then reply with a series of questions to identify the teenager’s smoking habits, such as when and why they smoke, so the system will later be able to deliver messages tailored to those habits.

A professional tobacco treatment specialist will also monitor the system throughout the day and message subscribers personally when extra assistance is needed, according to the health department.

Parental permission is not required to enter the program, and it’s completely anonymous.

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