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A Real-World Evaluation of a Smokeless Tobacco Cessation Text Message Program for Veterans: Outcomes and Comparison to Cigarette Smokers.

Christofferson DE, Blalock DV, Knoeppel J, Beckham JC, Hamlett-Berry K, Hertzberg JS. A Real-World Evaluation of a Smokeless Tobacco Cessation Text Message Program for Veterans: Outcomes and Comparison to Cigarette Smokers. Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. 2022 Feb 1; 24(2):186-195.

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INTRODUCTION: Smokeless tobacco (ST) use and cessation rates have remained unchanged while cigarette smoking has declined, and cessation rates have increased. Text message programs have proved effective for cigarette smokers but have not been evaluated for ST users. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) created a ST-specific arm of its SmokefreeVET automated text message program to help veteran ST users quit. AIMS AND METHODS: A retrospective evaluation was conducted on a real-world sample of veteran ST users (n = 1139) who subscribed to SmokefreeVET between 2017 and 2020. Time in program, abstinence, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) use were evaluated and compared to 9764 cigarette smokers who subscribed to SmokefreeVET. RESULTS: Younger subscribers were more likely to opt out early; 54% of ST users and 60% of cigarette smokers completed the 6-week program. ST users were more likely to report abstinence than cigarette smokers at all time points: the primary outcome, 30-day abstinence at 6 months, was 3.9% in ST users and 2.6% in cigarette smokers (p = .05) and the secondary outcome, abstinence at 3 months, was 5.3% in ST users and 3.4% in cigarette smokers (p = .03). NRT was used by 17% of ST users and was associated with a trend toward higher abstinence compared to ST users who did not use NRT. CONCLUSION: A real-world sample of ST users were more likely to report abstinence after using the SmokefreeVET text program than cigarette smokers. Automated text message programs may be effective for increasing cessation among ST users and warrant further investigation. IMPLICATIONS: Smokeless tobacco (ST) cessation is an important public health priority and of importance for veteran and military populations that have higher rates of ST use. There have been relatively few studies conducted investigating the effectiveness of text message interventions for ST cessation, despite the proven efficacy for cigarette smokers. This study provides evidence from a large, real-world sample that text message programs may be effective for ST users and suggests that further research into this treatment modality for ST users is needed.

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