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Quit Smoking Apps and Gadgets: Tech Tools to Extinguish the Butts

Scott Jung Senior Editor, MedGadget
man looking at mobile device

In the same way that smart fitness trackers are helping users shed pounds, technology is helping smokers extinguish their habit once and for all. Here’s a look at three high-tech ways smokers are getting help quitting.

In recent years, quantification of daily habits has become a major trend in consumer healthcare products. We’ve seen products that track your exercise, food intake, sleep, medication and even your mental stress levels.

Smoking can be just as negative as lack of exercise or an unhealthy diet. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It’s claimed 10 times more lives than American casualties in all the wars ever fought by the United States.

doctor and patient

Yet, as with all habits, smoking is breakable.

Helpful Apps

Nearly everyone these days carries around a smartphone, so iPhones and Androids are naturally being researched as smoking cessation tools that are universally accessible. Search the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace, and you’ll find a variety of apps designed to help smokers quit. However, only a few have the science to back up their claims of effectiveness.

For Apple devices, SmartQuit from Seattle-based 2Morrrow Inc. recently completed a promising clinical study that showed its app is two to three times more effective at getting users to drop the habit than trying to quit on their own. SmartQuit was created by Dr. Jonathan Bricker, a clinical psychologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington. The secret to SmartQuit’s effectiveness is an approach called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), in which a person notes the thoughts and cravings that lead to destructive behaviors, accept them and, over time, choose not to act on them.

On the Android side, the National Cancer Institute recently awarded the University of Arizona $365,000 to study the effectiveness of a smoking cessation app developed especially for women. The app includes guided imagery and personalized messages designed to boost positive body image and remind women of the benefits of eating well, exercising frequently and not smoking.

According to Dr. Judith Gordon, a professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and lead researcher of the study, a healthy diet, frequent exercise and cessation of smoking are interrelated activities that can be changed when done together.

Smart e-Cigarettes

There’s still a lot of debate about whether using electronic cigarettes is safer than smoking regular ones. However, e-cigarettes require electricity, which means their usage can be monitored and they can be easily turned on and off.

Smokio and Kosmo are two wireless electronic cigarettes that connect to your smartphone via low-energy Bluetooth. Both can control the density of the emitted vapor, help you track your usage, including the equivalent regular cigarettes you’ve smoked, and help you set goals. Smokio displays the health benefits you gain by cutting back and Kosmo provides personalized coaching and access to a social network. Kosmo takes the feedback a step further by integrating a color-changing LED into the body of the e-cigarette; if your Kosmo lights up red, it means you’ve missed your goal

Gadgets

Finally, we come to a couple of handheld smart devices that don’t really fit a specific category, but both have a unique, promising approach to helping smokers quit.

QuitBit is a smart electronic lighter. But how exactly can a lighter help smokers quit? QuitBit counts the number of times you light your cigarette, as well as how frequently you light up. It puts this information right within your line of vision as you light your cigarette, so you’ll always know your stats. Of course, QuitBit wouldn’t be a smart lighter without an app — the smartphone app monitors your progress, helps you set goals, share them with your friends and will even allow you to program when the lighter is disabled.

IntelliQuit, on the other hand, is a handheld sensor, similar to a breathalyzer, that analyzes the amount of carbon monoxide (a dangerous component of cigarette smoke) in your breath. The IntelliQuit app platform also includes GPS tracking, an interactive game and the capability to upload your statistics to other platforms, such as medical and insurance records.

Smoking is undoubtedly one of the most difficult habits to break. According to the Centers for Disease Control, fewer than half of adult smokers who desire to quit can make it through a single day without a cigarette. Thankfully, there’s technology that can help smokers avoid fighting the battle alone.

Ever since he had an atresia surgically repaired at age five, Scott has been fascinated with the field of medical science. Combining his love of consumer electronics and technology with medicine, he studied biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California and graduated in 2009. By day, Scott is a technical services engineer at St. Jude Medical, but moonlights as a senior editor at Medgadget, a leading medical technology and innovation blog. Scott is always searching for the next big thing in medical technology and digital health and looks forward to sharing these life-transforming innovations with iQ by Intel’s audience.

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