E-Health for Tobacco

By Linda Topping Streitfeld

If you were trying to quit smoking, would it help to have the support of a friend? Someone you could text for advice when you really needed a smoke? That “friend” now exists in the form of a simple mobile health tool developed by the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization in partnership with technology firm ITU.

Dr. Vinayak Prasad, project manager for the Tobacco Free Initiative, described “Be Healthy Be Mobile” for fellows in the Journalist-to-Journalist training at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi.

Here’s how it works: When the need for a smoke seems overwhelming, users text the word “CRAVE.” They get an immediate reply text with an inspirational anti-smoking message. They can text for as many messages as needed until the immediate craving ends. The program uses SMS messages rather than an app, to make it as easily accessible as possible for rural and low-income smokers.