Leveraging Technology To Boost Success In Quitting Smoking

Quitting Smoking

Digital transformation continues to be relevant across industries, with the health sector being no exception. To illustrate, a previous post entitled ‘What Is Healthcare Marketing’ discusses how healthcare providers can use digital platforms like websites and social media to connect with and retain patients. As a result, patients gain access to quality health services, while medical professionals cultivate trust through the speed and efficiency with which they provide essential care.

Besides strengthening the doctor-patient relationship, technology can also play a role in encouraging healthy lifestyle changes among the public. Specifically, technological applications can help stop smoking, which is currently one of the leading causes of preventable disease and mortality in the US and worldwide. Despite quitting smoking being challenging due to cravings and withdrawal symptoms, here’s how smokers can leverage tech to boost their chances of success and live healthier lifestyles.

Smoke-Free Alternatives

Instead of simply quitting cold turkey, smokers can switch to smoke-free alternatives, such as oral nicotine pouches that are increasingly being adopted for their discreet delivery format. This is possible through the product’s controlled release mechanism, which is activated when the user puts the pouch under their lip. A popular flavor among users is menthol, with ZYN’s wintergreen nicotine pouches characterized by their menthol-based flavor with a hint of sweetness. Besides the option to choose between 3mg and 6mg strengths, the release rate prolongs the icy burst of flavor and nicotine sensation to further encourage smokers to quit cigarettes. Meanwhile, other oral alternatives like the LUCY nicotine gum prevent cravings and manage stress among smokers by using synthetic nicotine, which keeps the product tobacco-free and viable for transitioning from cigarette smoking to abstinence.

Wearable Devices

Wearable technologies have been immensely popular in recent years, as users found them useful for improving productivity and connectivity in work, school, and overall life. Interestingly, wearable devices can also be integrated into smoking cessation journeys by detecting triggers and alerting users before they slip up or relapse. For example, the wearable necklace SmokeMon has motion-based and thermal sensors that collect data on an individual’s personal smoking patterns, such as the timing, duration, and volume of a puff. Through real-time data collection and processing, the device can then send the user a mindfulness text message via a smartphone app to help them overcome the setback and hold them accountable to their quit plan.

Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation

Tobacco triggers changes in the brain and its neurotransmitters, making it harder for smokers to quit due to their dependence on nicotine. Fortunately, researchers have been exploring non-invasive brain stimulation techniques that can help heavy smokers counteract nicotine’s effects on the brain’s reward system. In a review published in the journal Addiction, researchers found that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was the most effective in reducing the number of cigarettes smoked daily. This method generates high-frequency magnetic pulses in the brain area responsible for memory and decision-making to address abnormal brain activity associated with smoking, resulting in less frequent and severe cravings.

Digital Behavioral Interventions

The unprecedented growth of smartphone use and Internet connectivity has also been crucial for increasing smokers’ access to behavioral interventions. A notable example is the National Cancer Institute’s Smokefree.gov initiative, which provides free informative resources and evidence-based support for smoking cessation through its mobile-friendly website, text messaging programs, and mobile apps. Since Smokefree.gov also disseminates resources that target specific demographics like women, veterans, and older adults, adoption of its digital resources has grown steadily, recording approximately 7-8 million visitors in 2018 alone.

Clearly, smokers are more likely to quit and live smoke-free lifestyles, given the range of technologies they can utilize to address cessation barriers and, in turn, boost success rates. The next step is to increase smokers’ awareness of these technologies to help them transform their habits.

Also Read: Hybrid Work: Productivity And Mental Health

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