Tobacco kills up to half of the people who use it, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Who managed to quit smoking normally have tried at least once in the past without success. There are several applications that can be useful to achieve this. In addition to smoke-free days, cigarettes and money saved, and health benefits, they also suggest games and distraction techniques. There are even some that allow you to chat with other ex-smokers and call a professional if you’re at risk of relapsing.
The Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) has been helping hundreds of people quit smoking for years with a program that theoretically has a 60% success rate. This method, transferred to the applications RespiraApp, has three phases. The first two are optional and consist of gradually reducing the number of cigarettes smoked, in addition to setting the “D-Day”, the date when smoking is definitely quit. From this moment, the third phase begins, in which the user will receive advice on how to manage stress and avoid relapse.
In order to use the application, the user must register with an email and answer a questionnaire that assesses their nicotine addiction. “How long does it take from waking up to smoking? Having trouble quitting smoking in places where it’s banned? Which cigarette do you find it harder to give up on the first one of the day or all the others? Do you also smoke if you are so sick that you have to spend most of the day in bed?” the app asks.
There is no perfect day to quit smoking. The AECC advises choosing one that doesn’t involve a lot of stress and tension or, for example, an important date. And nothing to hide it. In fact, it’s wise to tell family and friends: “If you feel it is necessary, ask them not to talk about it, at least these days, so as not to constantly remind you.”
Among the app’s most useful features, progress metrics and an SOS button stand out, designed for the worst moments. In addition to riddles and memory games, by pressing it is possible to seek advice to relieve cravings for smoking or when you are afraid, have a lot of cravings to eat or are unable to sleep. For example, it can be helpful to always have a book, magazine, or crossword notebook with you, to set meal times, or to strike up a conversation. In fact, one of the strengths of this application is that it allows it call a toll-free phone of the AECC for assistance at any time of the day.
Behind the Sacabo app is the Spanish Society of Smoking Specialists (SEDET). After downloading, the user must indicate whether he is male or female, how old he is, when he started this habit, what he smokes – whether cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos, rolling tobacco or electronic cigarettes – and what day he is want to stop doing that. When that time comes, the app suggests changing the order of the activities you do each morning — like showering or drinking coffee — and avoiding large meals and drinks with tea, caffeine, or alcohol.
It can also be helpful to stay busy, focus on the moment, and say phrases like “I’m not going to smoke today, I’ll make up my mind tomorrow.” SEDET insists on the importance of positive thinking. Saying “I can’t go another minute without smoking” is not the same as saying “If I can go without smoking, the cravings will go away, as has happened to me other times”.
The body also recommends talking to someone you trust, good sleep, a balanced diet, relaxing baths, and breathing and relaxation exercises to help you manage anxiety. The app collects several tricks to manage withdrawal syndrome: from playing with a pen while talking on the phone, to brushing your teeth to remove the taste of food that reminds you of a cigarette, or activities incompatible with smoking – for For example going to the swimming pool or to the cinema or doing handicrafts—. Like that of the AECC, it also has a panic button: “If you feel like smoking and you don’t know how to distract yourself, enter this box and chat with the video game to forget about tobacco.”
Quitting smoking has several health benefits as stated on the app. If after 20 minutes the blood flow to the extremities has improved, after 24 hours the risk of heart attack is reduced and after two days the sense of taste and smell will begin to recover. In addition, the risk of lung cancer or cardiovascular diseases decreases dramatically over the years. According to the President of the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI), Thierry Philip, “if Europeans under the age of 20 stopped smoking tomorrow, cancer mortality would be halved in 50 years’ time”.
There are many other apps on the market that work in a similar way. Among the most popular, QuitNow stands out (Load game / app store). It is based on the WHO indicators and can be used without registration. One of its strangest features is that it has a chat with ex-smokers. Its creators believe that “when you quit smoking, you need to change your routines and surround yourself with people who are also quitting.” In this chat, users chat about how hot or cold it is, how long they’ve been smoking, or what they’ve achieved. “219 days without smoking, 2,196 cigarettes without smoking, 308 euros and nine days and three hours saved,” comments one of them.
The application Stop Tobacco Mobile Trainer (Load game / app store), which can also be used without registration, is supported by the Official Association of Psychologists of Las Palmas (COPLP) and developed in collaboration with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Every day the user has to complete five tasks to quit smoking gradually. In addition to logging every cigarette you smoke in the four weeks leading up to D-Day, you’ll need to do a challenge, brain teaser, trivia game, and check your progress before bed. The app also has relaxation techniques and a calculator.
If it excels at something, it’s because it includes thought and reflection exercises that make the smoker think. “Do you see yourself at the gates of a school that gives away cigarettes to its boys and girls? Would you introduce your own child to tobacco use if you knew what that means?” he asks in a reflection exercise. After a few minutes, he asks the user why he is allowing himself harm that he would not do to others.