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How Innovation Is Changing the Face of Smoking Cessation

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In an era where innovation intersects with health and wellness, technology is emerging as a powerful ally in the battle against smoking addiction. From smart devices to wearable gadgets, the arsenal of tools available to aid in smoking cessation has expanded dramatically.

For instance, the Slighter smart lighter from Lebanese startup Slighter Corp., is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze smoker’s behavior patterns. Based on this pattern, the lighter's algorithm manipulates the frequency at which users are permitted to have a cigarette, with the ultimate goal of reducing the amount of cigarettes consumed until a smoker can quit.

This fusion of technology and healthcare not only provides individuals with personalized support but also redefines the journey to a smoke-free life. Let’s delve into the diverse ways in which technology is revolutionizing the landscape of smoking cessation, offering newfound hope and empowerment to those striving to break free from tobacco’s grip.

The changing market for smoking cessation

For some time now, reduced-risk products (RRPs) have been a focus for many tobacco manufacturers. As tobacco restrictions tighten globally and consumers become increasingly health-conscious, industry giants like Philip Morris International (PMI) have been reformulating their approach to align with these changes. During PMI’s seventh Technovation event, company leaders stressed the importance of prioritizing science and innovation and embracing tobacco harm reduction by providing smokers with better alternatives.

RRPs have proliferated in the US, mainly in the form of modern oral nicotine products like nicotine pouches, gum, and lozenges. Popular nicotine pouch brands such as VELO, On!, and ZYN aim to replace combustible cigarettes. Considered RRPs, pouches present less risk of harm to smokers who switch to them versus continuing to smoke traditional cigarettes, owing to their tobacco-free nature.

While these products have proven to be effective in soothing withdrawal symptoms by delivering smokeless nicotine to users, there are still a few drawbacks. Just as nicotine patches like Habitrol have side effects, including skin irritation and dizziness, the same goes for nicotine pouches.

While nicotine pouch brands like ZYN and On! are popular for their convenience and accessibility, a few known side effects of ZYN are hiccups, upset stomach, and sore mouth. Users experiencing these side effects may need to pause use for a while or opt for other flavors or strengths. However, it’s also important to note that every person responds to nicotine products differently, and some may not even experience these side effects at all.

Nevertheless, RRPs are beneficial for smokers wanting to reduce their cigarette intake or quit completely. Interestingly, some studies suggest that effective smoking cessation typically requires a combination of tools. This may entail the use of a smoking alternative, including pouches or patches, alongside pharmacotherapy and digital-based interventions.

Tech innovations for smoking cessation

In one study, researchers found that the interactive and immersive nature of technology allows for engaging and interactive interventions that can increase motivation and promote behavioral change among smokers. Tech-focused cessation interventions range from quit apps like Quit Sense to wearable devices. Quit Sense is a stop-smoking app that uses AI to detect when a user is entering a location that may trigger an urge to smoke. The app then offers assistance to help smokers manage cravings that may arise.

Meanwhile, innovations in wearable devices have led to the development of the SmokeMon smart necklace. SmokeMon is a battery-operated device that uses thermal sensors to detect heat radiating from the tip of a lit cigarette. The device then collects information about each cigarette, like how many puffs were taken, the amount of smoke inhaled, and the time between puffs. By monitoring cigarette use, the device can be used as a tool for smokers to understand their smoking habits and make necessary changes to make cessation more effective.

As technology continues to evolve, so does its potential to support individuals on their journey to quit smoking. With each innovation and advancement, the barriers to success are being dismantled, and the path to a smoke-free life becomes more accessible than ever before.