Few of our patients at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center smoke tobacco, but the majority are ‘consistent’ and ‘heavy’ marijuana smokers. In fact, it’s pretty unusual to have a patient who doesn’t smoke weed. Sadly few actually see it as a problem and are unaware of the detrimental health effects that weed can have.
Few of our patients at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center smoke tobacco, but the majority are ‘consistent’ and ‘heavy’ marijuana smokers. In fact, it’s pretty unusual to have a patient who doesn’t smoke weed. Sadly few actually see it as a problem and are unaware of the detrimental health effects that weed can have. We have written educational ‘healthbytes’ to send via text message (part of the TextinTheCIty program) informing teens of the dangers that smoking weed may have, but I can’t help feeling there should be more we can offer.
A recent programme developed by the National Cancer Institute has inspired me to pursue this line of thought and think about adaptions for a marijuana ‘quitting’ program. In the meantime for those patients who are cigarette smoking, SmokefreeTXT will be one of my first suggestions to help them quit the habit.
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A new effort to help teens quit smoking makes use of one of teens’ most constant companions—the mobile phone. According to the program’s developers, 75% of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 own a cell phone, so “there is immense potential for mobile technologies to affect health awareness and behavior change among teens.” Aside from the “cool factor” of the text message, recently published data suggest that text messaging helped almost 11% of smokers stop smoking, compared with almost 5% of those in a control group.
Developed by smoking cessation experts, SmokefreeTXT is a free text message cessation service that provides 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to teens trying to quit smoking. The initiative is part of a larger site—Smokefree Teen—developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). SmokefreeTXT is a key component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to develop mobile health programs as a way to implement more healthful lifestyles. Along with SmokefreeTXT, Smokefree Teen offers several social media pages to connect teens with cessation tools, including QuitSTART—an interactive quit guide for teens that delivers cessation and mood management tips, tracks cravings, and monitors quit attempts.