This is how quit smoking apps work: from panic buttons to ex-smokers’ chats | Your Technology | The country
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Tobacco kills up to half of the people who use it, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Those who have been able to quit smoking have usually tried at least once without success in the past. There are multiple applications that can be useful to achieve this. In addition to keeping track of 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 in the event of a possible risk of relapse.
RespirApp (Play Store / App Store)
The Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) has helped hundreds of people to quit smoking for years with a program that in theory has a success rate of 60%. This method, transferred to the RespirApp app, has three phases. The first two are optional and consist of progressively reducing the number of cigarettes smoked, in addition to setting “D-day”, the date on which tobacco will definitely be given up. From that moment, the third phase begins, in which the user receives advice to manage stress and prevent relapses.
To start using the application, the user has to register with an email and answer a questionnaire in which their dependence on nicotine is evaluated. “How long does it take from when you wake up to when you smoke? Do you have difficulties refraining from smoking in places where it is prohibited? Which cigarette is more difficult for you to give up, the first of the day or all the others? Do you smoke even if you are so sick that you have to spend most of the day in bed?”, asks the app.
There is no perfect day to quit tobacco. The AECC advises choosing one in which there is not much stress and tension or, for example, an important date. And nothing to hide it. In fact, it is advisable to tell family and friends: “If you see it necessary, ask them not to talk about it at least these days so as not to be reminding you all the time.”
Among the most useful functions of the app, the progress metrics and an SOS button designed for the worst moments stand out. In addition to puzzles and memory games, by pressing it it is possible to consult advice to alleviate the desire to smoke or in case you have anxiety, a lot of desire to eat or you cannot sleep. For example, it can be helpful to always carry a book, magazine, or crossword notebook with you, set meal times, or strike up a conversation with anyone. In fact, one of the strengths of this application is that it allows you to call the AECC’s free telephone number to receive help at any time of the day.
Pulled out (Play Store / App Store)
Behind the Sacabó app is the Spanish Society of Smoking Specialists (SEDET). After downloading it, the user must indicate if he is a man or a woman, how old he is, when he started this habit, what he smokes – if cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos, rolling tobacco or electronic cigarette – and what day he wants to stop doing it. When that time comes, the app suggests changing the order of activities you do each morning — like taking a shower 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 tell yourself phrases like “I’m not going to smoke today, I’ll decide tomorrow.” SEDET insists precisely on the importance of thinking positive. It is not the same to say “I can’t take another minute without smoking” than “if I can take it without smoking, the desire will disappear, as has happened to me other times”.
To manage anxiety, the body also recommends talking to people you trust, sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, taking relaxing baths and doing breathing and relaxation exercises. The app collects multiple tricks to manage withdrawal syndrome: from playing with a pen when talking on the phone to brushing your teeth to remove the taste of food that reminds you of a cigarette or doing activities that are incompatible with smoking —for example, going to the swimming pool or to the movies or doing crafts—. Like that of the AECC, it also has a panic button: “When you feel like smoking and don’t know how to distract yourself, enter this box and entertain yourself with the video game to forget about tobacco.”
Quitting smoking has several health benefits, as stated in the app. If after 20 minutes the blood circulation in the extremities has improved, after 24 hours the risk of heart attack is reduced and, after two days, the sense of taste and smell begin to recover. In addition, the risk of lung cancer or cardiovascular disease drops dramatically over the years. In fact, according to the president of the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI), Thierry Philip, “if Europeans under the age of 20 quit smoking tomorrow, cancer mortality would be cut in half in 50 years”.
There are many other apps on the market that work in a similar way. Among the most popular, QuitNow (Play Store / App Store) stands out. It is based on the WHO indicators and can be used without registration. One of its most curious functions 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 their achievements. “219 days without smoking, 2,196 cigarettes not smoked, 308 euros and nine days and three hours saved”, comments one of them.
The Stop Tobacco Mobile Trainer application (Play Store / App Store), which can also be used without registering, is endorsed by the Official College of Psychologists of Las Palmas (COPLP) and developed in collaboration with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Each day the user has to perform five tasks to progressively quit smoking. In addition to keeping a log of every cigarette you smoke in the four weeks leading up to D-Day, you must do a challenge, a reasoning exercise, a trivia game, and check your progress before bed. The app also has relaxation techniques and a calculator.
If it stands out for something, it is because it has reasoning and reflection exercises that encourage the smoker to think. “Do you see yourself at the gates of a school giving away cigarettes to its boys and girls? Would you introduce your own child to tobacco consumption knowing what it means? ”, He questions in an exercise of reflection. After a few minutes, he asks the user why he admits harm to himself that he wouldn’t do to other people.
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