Plain English Summary
Background and study aims?
In Switzerland, regular cigarette smoking is particularly widespread among adolescents and young adults with lower educational level. Traditional measures to promote smoking cessation (stopping smoking), such as smoking cessation groups, are time- and labour-intensive and are used by only a small proportion of young people. To promote smoking cessation in this group, the most promising programs take into account their lifestyle as well as their individual motivation to quit and their ability to understand smoking cessation information. Mobile phone text messaging offers novel opportunities to provide personalised messages to promote smoking cessation in large groups of adolescents and young adults.
This study aims to see how well a text messaging program to promote smoking cessation in regularly smoking apprentices in Switzerland will work.
Who can participate?
Participants are adolescents and young adults (typically aged 14-26 years) who are attending vocational schools, who are smoking cigarettes daily or occasionally, and who own a mobile phone.
What does the study involve?
A text messaging program generating personalised messages using data from a web-based survey will be developed. The text messages will be sent to the participants over a period of three months. The messages will take into account demographic data and the individuals smoking behaviour based on the Health Action Process Approach. Participants will receive two text messages to promote smoking cessation per week. Program participants with an intention to quit smoking can also use a more intensive text messaging program to prepare for their quit day and for relapse prevention afterwards. The program will be evaluated within a controlled trial to see how well it works, and to see how well it is accepted by participants. Participants will be assigned randomly to an intervention group receiving the program or an assessment only control group. 6 months later, the participants will be asked if they have smoked at all in the past 7 days.
The program offers an effective and inexpensive way to promote smoking cessation among young people of different education and independent of their motivation to quit.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Possible benefits of program participation are an increased chance of becoming a non-smoker, an increased intention to quit smoking, and a lower level of nicotine dependence. We do not expect there to be any risks associated with program participation.
Where is the study run from?
Approximately 130 school classes from approximately 30 vocational schools in Switzerland.
When is study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study starts in September 2011 and ends in March 2013.
Who is funding the study?
The study is funded by the Swiss Tobacco Prevention Fund.
Who is the main contact?
Dr. Severin Haug
Dr Severin Haug
+41 (0)44 448 11 74
Efficacy of an individualised smoking cessation intervention in adolescents and young adults provided by text messaging: a cluster randomised controlled trial
Smokers receiving a text messaging based smoking cessation intervention will show higher rates of smoking abstinence at follow-up than smokers of an assessment only control group
Local Ethics Committee of the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland approved on 15th March 2011, KEK-StV-Nr. 05/11
Cluster randomised controlled trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a participant information sheet
Tobacco smoking cessation
1. Online baseline assessment of demographic data and smoking behaviour
2. Online baseline assessment of pros and cons of smoking and strategies to resist smoking
3. Individualised text messages to support smoking cessation (2 text messages per week for a period of 3 months)
4. Possibility to register for a more intensive program providing strategies for smoking cessation around a self-defined quit date (2 text messages per day for a period of 4 weeks)
Assessment only control group:
Online baseline assessment of demographic data and smoking behaviour
Primary outcome measure
7-day point prevalence smoking abstinence assessed at follow-up at 6 months
Secondary outcome measures
All secondary outcome measures will be assessed at the 6-months follow up.
1. 30-day point prevalence smoking abstinence
2. Nicotine dependence assessed by the Heaviness of Smoking Index
3. Self-efficacy for smoking cessation
4. Quit attempt in the previous 6 months
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Male and female adolescents and young adults attending vocational or high schools (age 14-26)
2. Daily cigarette smoking or occasional cigarette smoking (at least 4 cigarettes in the previous month and at least one cigarette during the past week)
3. Ownership of an own mobile phone
4. Use of mobile phone text messaging
Target number of participants
N=910 (intervention group: n=455, assessment only control group: n=455).
Participant exclusion criteria
Does not meet inclusion criteria
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Swiss Tobacco Prevention Fund (Switzerland)
Bundesamt für Gesundheit BAG
Swiss Tobacco Prevention Fund (Switzerland) (No 10.007207)
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Not provided at time of registration
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Basic results (scientific)
2013 results in: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23956024
Haug S, Schaub MP, Venzin V, Meyer C, John U, Efficacy of a text message-based smoking cessation intervention for young people: a cluster randomized controlled trial., J. Med. Internet Res., 2013, 15, 8, e171, doi: 10.2196/jmir.2636.