This AI-based smartphone app may help you quit smoking


London, April 14

Finding it hard to quit smoking? British researchers have developed a stop-smoking mobile app that senses where and when you might be triggered to light up and could help you quit.

Research from the University of East Anglia developed the app -- Quit Sense -- which is the world's first Artificial Intelligence (AI) stop smoking app that detects when people are entering a location where they used to smoke.

It then provides support to help manage people's specific smoking triggers in that location.

The research team hopes that by helping people manage trigger situations, the new app will help more smokers to quit.

"We know that quit attempts often fail because urges to smoke are triggered by spending time in places where people used to smoke. This might be while at the pub or at work, for example. Other than using medication, there are no existing ways of providing support to help smokers manage these types of situations and urges as they happen," said lead researcher Prof Felix Naughton, from UEA's School of Health Sciences.

"Quit Sense is an AI smartphone app that learns about the times, locations and triggers of previous smoking events to decide when and what messages to display to the users to help them manage urges to smoke in real time," added Dr. Chloe Siegele-Brown from the University of Cambridge, who built the app.

The team carried out a randomised controlled trial involving 209 smokers who were recruited via social media. They were sent links by text message to access their allocated treatment -- all participants received a link to NHS online stop smoking support, but only half received the Quit Sense app in addition.

Six months later, the participants were asked to complete follow-up measures online and those reporting to have quit smoking were asked to mail back a saliva sample to verify their abstinence.

The findings, published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, showed that people who were offered the app quit smoking four times more, after six months, compared to those only offered online NHS support.

However, one limitation of this relatively small-scale study was that less than half of the people who reported quitting smoking returned a saliva sample to verify that they had quit smoking. More research is needed to provide a better estimate of the effectiveness of the app, the team said.


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