Free et al randomized 5,800 UK ready-to-quit smokers to get regular motivational text messages and help-line access, vs. placebo (texts thanking them for participating). At 6 months, those getting motivational text messages had biochemically-verified continuous abstinence of 11%, vs. 5% in the controls. Verification was by salivary cotinine at 6 months (& showed that 28% of self-described abstainers were still smoking). (n=5,800) Lancet 2011;30 June online.
Cost of a text message: $0.11; Cost of a CT scan: $300+; Cost of a thoracotomy: $8,000+ ; Average attributable cost of an abnormal CT scan in the Nat’l Lung Cancer Screening Trial after all workup complete: $45,000. (the latter number from Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, to CNN).