Phones are becoming extensions of ourselves. They carry details of our lives, our likes and dislikes. They're with us almost every hour of every day.
Experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine believe texting can help people quit smoking. They call the program - "TXT2 Stop."
The team spent more than two years recruiting thousands of smokers to take part in a random-controlled trial to see if texting could persuade them to give up. Nearly six thousand people from the UK signed up.
They were asked what triggered them to give up, and what health problems they suffered. They had to give doctors the date they planned to quit altogether.
Six months after the trial, each smoker sent in a swab. These were tested for a by-product of smoking to verify if they stopped.
Public health specialist, Dr. Cari Free London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, claim that according to their calculations the number of people who gave up had doubled.
Smokers had taken part in research before the trial to determine the type of advice and language that should be used in the texts. Free then helped devise specific texts of messages to go out to people in the key stages of quitting.
After 24 hours, for example, a former smoker would be encouraged by a text telling them their lungs were now clear. There's also advice on how to beat cravings. Smokers in difficulty could text for more help.
Free says it was important to ensure the messages wouldn't be antagonistic, dictatorial, or irritating.
"People do have different stories and different issues. There was some personalization, for example for some people putting on weight there were specific messages, for them, or for people worried that all their friends smoked and it was going to be really hard there were specific messages for them, so there was some personalization. I think what people said about the programme was that it felt like a friend encouraging them."
Free's team insist the texts shouldn't be considered a replacement for nicotine replacement therapy, counseling, or drugs prescribed by your family doctor. It's devised as another support mechanism in the battle against tobacco addiction and growing cardiovascular problems worldwide.
In India, children as young as eleven start smoking and doctors say the earlier you start the earlier you're likely to be addicted.
Specialists at the Center for Chronic Disease Control in New Delhi are encouraged by the UK study.
According to Cardiologist Dr D. Prabhakaran, the popularization of mobile phones provides such a condition.
"it's said that India has got more mobile phones than toilets, and mobile phones are becoming cheaper by the day and texting is cheap because you can buy bulk texting at a low cost. Clearly there's potential for texting as a mode of getting people to quit smoking."
However, he also says:
"One of the criticisms of texting is that it would be useful only in people who are literate and given the fact that there are a substantial number of illiterate people who smoke we need alternate methods and people are working on that."
Industry analyst Wireless Intelligence claims two thirds of the world's population is now hooked to a mobile phone. Doctors say that makes it too useful as a tool to ignore.
For CRI, I am Li Dong.