Sarah Harrop talks to public health researcher Cari Free about Txt2stop, text message-based support for smokers, in the third of a series of scientist profiles taken from our Annual Review 2011/12.
In January 2012 the Department of Health launched an affordable mobile phone support programme for smokers, which has been proven to double quit rates. This programme was developed for UK patients by Dr Cari Free at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) with MRC funding. Around 1,000 smokers are now signing up each month.
Cari’s office at the LSHTM is high-ceilinged and airy. The walls are lined with medical textbooks on everything from cancer to condoms. It’s here that she works four days a week as a senior lecturer, leading research studies in public health. On the fifth day of the week she’s a GP in South London which keeps her in touch with some of the patients her research will benefit.
Smoking is a notorious public health problem, causing heart attacks, stroke and lung cancer and it’s fast becoming an epidemic in developing countries like India and China. So affordable and effective ways to help people quit are in higher demand than ever. Read more