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Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 10:53 GMT
Text messages make quitting EZ
Smoking teenagers
The alerts could encourage people to give up smoking
An alert service designed to help smokers end the habit sends encouraging messages and advice to their mobiles.

The service, from internet company MyAlert.com, will provide three months of morale boosting slogans and tips.

It is estimated that up to two million smokers will start the new year attempting to kick their addictive nicotine habit.

Although treatments such as nicotine-replacement therapy in the form of chewing gum or patches can help, it is estimated that only 3% of those who try to quit using willpower alone succeed.

Manuel Cerquerio, MyAlert's UK manager, siad: "Smokers making it their New Year's resolution to kick the habit start out with the best of intentions, but giving up completely is a real struggle.

"We hope that our new service sending people regular suggestions on the best way to beat the nicotine addiction will make all the difference this year."

Amanda Sandford, of the charity Action on Smoking and Health said: "Everyone knows that smoking is harmful, but it can be really hard to kick the habit.

"But once you have made the decision to quit, MyAlert's regular tips should help keep you on track."

Research shows that even giving up later in life after decades of smoking can yield dramatic health benefits, and cut the risk of developing serious diseases such as lung cancer.

However, simply cutting down rather than quitting completely may not yield any benefit.

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