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Self-reported quit rates and quit attempts among subscribers of a mobile text messaging-based tobacco cessation programme in India
  1. Preetha Gopinathan1,
  2. Jagdish Kaur2,
  3. Surabhi Joshi3,
  4. Vinayak Mohan Prasad3,
  5. Sameer Pujari3,
  6. Pradeep Panda4,
  7. Pratima Murthy5
  1. 1 International Institute of Health Management Research, New Delhi, Delhi, India
  2. 2 Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organization South East Asia Regional Office, New Delhi, Delhi, India
  3. 3 Be He@lthy, Be Mobile, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  4. 4 International Institute of Health Management Research, New Delhi, Delhi, India
  5. 5 Centre for Addiction Medicine, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Preetha Gopinathan, International Institute of Health Management Research, New Delhi 110075, India; preetha{at}


Introduction In 2015, as part of the WHO and International Telecommunication Union’s ‘Be Healthy Be Mobile’ initiative using mobile technology to combat non-communicable diseases, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in India developed a short text message-based mobile health programme (the ‘mCessation’ programme) to support tobacco users to quit tobacco use.

Objectives To evaluate the effectiveness of the mCessation programme by estimating quit rates and quit attempts among registered subscribers of the programme and to understand subscriber perceptions of the programme.

Methods Subscribers to the mCessation (QuitNow) programme were telephonically interviewed 4–6 months after registration. A total of 12 502 calls were made, and completed responses recorded from 3362 ever tobacco users. A total of 6978 respondents either gave very few responses or refused to participate in the telephonic survey. Never tobacco users (1935) and subscribers to the mDiabetes programme (227) were excluded from the sample.

Results A large proportion of registrants (1935 out of 12 502 respondents) were found to be never users. The quit rate (estimated as those who stated they had not had any tobacco in the past 30 days at 4–6 months after registering with the programme from the total sample (excluding never smokers and mDiabetes registrants)) was 19%. Sixty-six per cent of registered subscribers who were current tobacco users had made quit attempts in the period between registration and survey. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents reported that the programme was helpful/very helpful to quit tobacco.

Conclusion The mCessation programme has successfully helped tobacco users in India to quit tobacco by motivating and supporting registered participants through mobile text messages.

  • mHealth
  • quit rate
  • quit attempt
  • tobacco use
  • mCessation

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  • Contributors PG: coordinator for the implementation of the evaluation survey; prepared the first draft of the manuscript, collated inputs from the team and finalised the manuscript. SJ: cowrote the first draft, provided inputs and made revisions in the manuscript. JK: planned the study; reviewed draft manuscripts and provided inputs for revision. VMP: reviewed draft manuscripts and provided overall guidance to the manuscript. SP: reviewed draft manuscripts. PP: co-coordinator for the implementation of the evaluation survey; provided inputs for revision of draft. PM: reviewed the manuscripts and provided inputs for revision of design and content of the paper.

  • Funding Funding for the study was provided by the World Health Organization.

  • Competing interests None delared.

  • Patient consent Consent of respondents obtained.

  • Ethics approval Institute Review Board, Ethics Committee of International Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) Delhi.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.