Link Copied

Anti-tobacco day — Next-gen technology to help you quit smoking

Anti-tobacco day — Next-gen technology to help you quit smoking
​​Next tech that's in the works to help people quit smokingBCCL
  • Anti-tobacco day is celebrated on May 31 to raise awareness of the dangers of using tobacco.
  • Many people around the world are using the power of technology to help people to quit smoking.
  • Here some next technology studies in the works right now.
India is home to nearly 120 million smokers. The World Health Organisation (WHO), estimates that is nearly 12% of all smokers worldwide — and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Nicotine gum, patches and even hypnosis have been around for a while but with the advent of technology, there are more effective ways in the works to help smokers quit the habit.

There are already multiple apps that you can download on your smartphone but researchers are trying to come up with more innovative approaches to make sure that when you decide the quit — it sticks. Because a burgeoning problem is that more than half of the people that decide to quit smoking, tend to relapse within the span of six months.

On the anti-tobacco day, here’s a list of the next-gen technologies that people around the world are working on to help people quit smoking — and stay tobacco-free for the long haul:

A mobile alert system to help you quit smoking

A mobile alert system to help you quit smoking
Unsplash

There are mobile apps and then there is wearable technology. A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University are combining the two develop a comprehensive solution to help smokers quit.

Two armband sensors detect smoking motions — a technology that’s demonstrated more than 98% accuracy compared to other systems — works in combination with a personalised text-messaging system. The messages either remind the wearer of why they decided to quit or send video messages to stress the importance of leaving tobacco in their rearview mirror.

"We've been able to differentiate between a single motion, which could be confused with eating or drinking, and a sequence of motions more clearly linked to the act of smoking a cigarette," said Ming-Chun Huang, an assistant electrical engineering and computer science professor who led the technical aspect of the study.

Advertisement

​Virtual Reality helps gamify quitting smoking

​Virtual Reality helps gamify quitting smoking
Unsplash

Virtual reality is being developed to treat a number of health disorders — including to help people quit smoking. The University of Quebec conducted a study with 91 smokers who played two games — one where they are crushing cigarettes and another where they had to grasp onto balls.

Their results showed that 15% of those playing the cigarette crushing game had cut down on smoking — as measured by carbon monoxide levels in an exhale test. However, only 2% of participants in the ball crushing game were able to alleviate their smoking habits.

The feeling of winning may have helped players associate crushing cigarettes virtually, to kicking the habit in real life. The next step for them is to find out if video games can deliver the same results.

Advertisement

​Messages that warn you before you pick up your next cigarette

​Messages that warn you before you pick up your next cigarette
Unsplash

Wearable technology isn’t new, but use-cases are increasing by the day. A project called MD2K, pulled information from wearable gadgets and its multiple sources — including the wristband’s accelerometer and gyrometer to identify ‘smoking gestures’, used GPS to identify location and used the gadget’s heart rate variability sensors. Combined, it allowed the researchers to narrow down on what kind of environments and behaviours trigger lapses in smoking.

Using that information, they hope to develop ‘just-in-time’ interventions as pop-up messages or surveys on the participants’ smartphones. They have won $10.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop hardware and software that compiles and analyses health data to anticipate and prevent ‘adverse health events’.

Advertisement
Advertisement

​Gene Tests to determine which drugs can help smokers kick the habit

​Gene Tests to determine which drugs can help smokers kick the habit

There are a lot of solutions and substitutes in the market to help smokers quit. However, each person has their own unique way of responding to them depending on their genetic makeup. Gene testing can help determine which method can work best for each individual.

For instance, a research paper published in Biological Psychiatry tried to assess when bupropion — one of only two non-nicotine smoking-cessation drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US — would be effective for a particular person. It showed that 55% of people of European descent with the CYP2b6*1 gene variation showed no added benefit. However, about 30% of people within the group quit smoking regardless of whether they were taking the drug or the placebo.

Individuals with the CYP2B6*6 mutation had a harder time quitting, but showed greater benefit from taking the drug as compared to the placebo. These tests are nowhere near being in the mainstream right now, however, the information can a long way to prove which smoking-cessation drugs are useful and how to develop them to be more efficient in the future.

Advertisement