As smoking remains a global health concern, governments worldwide are intensifying efforts to discourage this habit. In Hong Kong, for instance, experts from various fields have collaborated to create the Hong Kong Lung Cancer Study Group, taking part in initiatives aimed at the prevention and early detection of lung cancer. These initiatives include engaging with policymakers to develop stringent smoking regulations as well as finding ways to support smokers who want to quit.
But policies are just one part of the stop-smoking effort. All over the world, novel technologies and diverse tobacco-free alternatives are also providing individuals with powerful tools to quit. Below, we’ll examine how new technologies like AI and smoking alternatives are making smoking cessation easier and more accessible than ever.
How tech and smoking alternatives are making cessation easier
According to the World Health Organization, without cessation tools and support, only 4% of smokers attempting to quit are able to do so successfully. Fortunately, the widespread availability of technology, smokeless alternatives, and quit-smoking medications has significantly eased and enhanced smoking cessation efforts.
Mobile apps, online platforms, and wearable devices offer personalized support, track progress, and provide real-time assistance. In fact, a systematic review published in Cochrane Library found that digital interventions that are interactive and customized for the user resulted in higher quit rates compared to self-help, even at the 6-month follow-up and beyond. Here are a few examples of new cessation methods aiding smokers on their quit journey.
New technologies and smoking alternatives for cessation
Florence is a virtual health worker created by the WHO in partnership with researchers from the University of Auckland to help smokers quit. Free and available 24/7, Florence provides digital counseling services using evidence-based health information and can assist smokers with creating quit plans. Additionally, it directs users to WHO-recommended cessation services in their country. While investigations are still underway to observe whether Florence will be effective at reducing tobacco use as part of a public health program, initial results have shown promise, with users viewing it as a positive tool.
Tobacco-free nicotine pouches
Nicotine pouches are a tobacco-free alternative that is quickly growing in popularity. Demand from health-conscious US consumers in search of a way to get their nicotine fix without reaching for combustible tobacco has led to the development of nicotine pouch brands like ZYN. Unlike Swedish snus, another smokeless alternative, ZYN nicotine pouches available here are completely white because they lack tobacco. Instead, the nicotine these pouches contain is carefully extracted and purified using high-tech distillation procedures, ensuring a top-quality product that won’t stain users’ teeth. And since they’re discreet and odorless, they can be used in places where smoking might otherwise be restricted.
Unobtrusive wearable devices
Experts from Northwestern University have developed a new, wearable cessation device that detects when you light up while collecting data to help healthcare providers offer better care and prevent relapses. The heat-sensing device that looks like a necklace is called SmokeMon. Other than detecting smoke from a cigarette, SmokeMon collects information like how long each puff lasts, how long the cigarette stays in the mouth, the volume of smoke inhaled, the duration of each puff, and more. According to the researchers, this data is what helps predict when a person might relapse and alerts a health coach who can intervene via phone call.
From smokeless nicotine pouch alternatives to AI-powered virtual health workers, these advancements provide intervention methods and effective ways to quit traditional smoking. The combination of these accessible tools empowers individuals with varied options, making the journey toward a smoke-free life more tailored, flexible, and ultimately achievable.