Technology enters once and for all in the fight against Tobacco

Technology enters once and for all in the fight against Tobacco

Last year the World Health Organization launched a campaign for the World No Tobacco Day 2021, with a one-year cycle entitled “Commit to Quit smoking during COVID-19”. The challenge proposed by WHO confirmed two new realities for the theme: the lasting influence of the new coronavirus onto the population health, particularly those who smoke, and the definitive recognition of technology as an important way to help who wants to stop smoking. 

As the first initiative, UN health agency used the message service WhatsApp to implement the “Quit Challenge” and stimulate the construction of digital communities for social support. Previously, WHO had already used technology to create “Florence”, a digital health professional oriented by artificial intelligence (AI) that gives guidance and recommends helplines and support apps to whoever needs help to quit smoking. 

On World No Tobacco Day 2021, another tech tool will also complete it’s one year cycle: The Ismokay App, launched that same date on 2020 and available since then, for IOS and Android in the USA and Europe. Through it an important concept has been consolidated, Behavioral Changes, as a fundamental factor for the success of the journey of those who seek quitting smoking. 

“Researches clearly show that cigarette addiction is not exclusively chemical, but also behavioral. The App focus is to give a tool on the user’s hand to conduct them to acquire new habits, guiding the replacement of the periods that a person used to smoke for actions that will bring better quality of life, health, and welfare. All together with metrics and previews of their progress, until they feel totally ready to quit the cigarette”, explains Bernardo Chitarra, co-founder of the startup that developed the App Ismokay. 

Smoking is recognized by experts as one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. Amid the contingent of 1.1 billion smokers in the world, according to data from WHO, even who dedicates to quit tobacco makes an average of three failed attempts before effectively stop smoking. According to the UN, about 780 million people around the world say that they want to quit smoking, but only 30% of those have access to tools that could help them to do that. 

For WHO Director of Health Promotion, Ruediger Krech, in an interview with UN’s website, “Now is the right time to invest in comprehensive population-level cessation services” and quotes the fast advice, virtual cessation, digital services and all other tools that are proven to help people stop smoking. He says, “Solid services of cessation improve health, save lives, and spare money”. 

Discipline and challenges 

We call Ismokay methodology “Conscious Smoke” and it has been shown to be effective for the purpose of bringing more efficacy to people’s attempt to overcome their addiction, operating on two fronts: reduction of gradual consumption allied to behavioral changes”, explains Marcelo Souza, co-founder ofIsmokay and user of the App. He Reports “Tests were done with groups of people that helped us to conceive the App and with myself, I am overcoming the challenge and will quit cigarettes very soon, following my chronogram on Ismokay”. 

Ismokay 2021 update brought new steps, called in the App “Challenges”, that offers exclusive content for each day of the week. The user’s mission is to read or listen to them to perform the proposed exercises (at least once a day, preferentially upon waking). And some discipline is required: if any of the activities or meditation is not done, the user will keep receiving the contents of the challenge of the week, but it will not be registered as completed. 

“Whatever it is, the challenge that the user chooses, the App will be with him early morning on Monday. The purpose is to be alongside the smoker during all phases, whether while still in the habit, during the transition journey, and after succeeding to quit smoking, to avoid relapses”, explains Souza. 

Covid and cigarette 

According to WHO, the current evidence suggests that COVID-19 severity is higher among smokers. Smoking impairs pulmonary function, making it more difficult for the body to combat respiratory diseases due to the new coronavirus. 

Tobacco users have increased risks of being infected by the virus through their mouth while smoking or using another tobacco product. If smokers contract the COVID-19 virus, they will have a greater risk of contracting a serious infection, because their lungs health is already compromised. 

With the evolution of vaccination, the post-pandemic period begins to happen and a phase inviting for the adoption of new habits and definitive behavioral changes. “We saw this demand, and it is a natural tendency. Not long ago when it was still common to smoke inside airplanes, restaurants, and malls. Changes and innovations came to stay”, Concluded the partners of Ismokay. 

Ismokay App offers a free version (freemium), with access to tools like the consumption table, and one behavioral change per week, in addition to motivational messages. With the premium version (paid), the user can unlock access to advanced behavioral changes (based on their performance over time), exclusive inspirational content, notes integrated into the system, among other functions. Every Sunday, the app evaluates the user performance, and he receives feedback to monitor the evolution of its indicators, in addition to being able to compare with the average of other participants. 

Another new is the “Ismokay Voucher”offer to gift someone else with the app’s subscription, helping a friend or family to overcome the challenge to quit smoking.

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Contact Person: Bernardo Chitarra
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Country: United States