Free smartphone app to help teens quit smoking
13th August 2013
smartphone appA motivational anti-smoking smartphone app has been released, primarily aiming to help teenagers give up smoking now before it is too late and their health is negatively affected, in addition to preventing those from starting the deadly habit if they have not done so already. The ‘Tobacco-Free Teens’ smartphone app is available free on the Apple iTunes Store and has been funded by the Tobacco Outreach Education Program (TOEP). It has been downloaded more than 1,000 times since its launch on 27 June but this could skyrocket once awareness of the app spreads between friends. Featuring a variety of colourful and fun animated teen characters and ‘cool’ music, the app will have a universal appeal for teens, including those who have never smoked previously, those who want to quit, those finding it difficult to quit and those with apparently no intention of quitting smoking. “Our app combines education and entertainment with comics and interactive games,” commented the app’s designer Alexander Prokhorov, a professor in the Department of Behavioural Science at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He added: “It motivates teens to stay away from tobacco and teaches behavioural skills to help them resist pro-tobacco pressures. Such an approach is much more appealing to youth than text-based instructional tools.” Prokhorov based the design and content in the app from the curriculum of a bilingual, online tobacco prevention and cessation program aimed and middle and high school students from different countries around the world. In one of the gaming activities, the user is required to tap away different things that are acting as smoking temptations - depicted as objects – which are quickly moving around the screen. As a stark reminder of how smoking can affect teenager’s looks to potential romantic interests, a separate game requires the user to match-up two pairs of cards showing memorable images of smoking repercussions such as bad breath, yellow teeth and stained fingers. “Every module of the app was carefully designed with teens in mind,” says Prokhorov.  He continued: “Most teens are very particular about their appearance and don't realise that smoking can affect their appearance well before they develop cancer.” Medical Specialists Pharmacy are supportive of the app as people must remember that the younger you start smoking, the more damage you will do to your body later in life. For instance, did you know that someone who begins smoking at age 15 is three times more at risk of dying from cancer than someone who starts smoking during their mid-20s. An estimated 20% of teenagers in the UK are smokers and roughly 75% of those will then continue this deadly habit into their adult lives. Clearly something needs to be done to bring these figures down and hopefully the smoking app will play some part in that. If you are a smoker aged 18 or above, the smoking cessation medication Champix can help you to quit smoking by mimicking the effect of nicotine on the body. Therefore, it both reduces the urge to smoke and relieves withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, Champix can reduce the enjoyment of cigarettes if you do smoke when on treatment. It is available today at Medical Specialists from as little as £75.00 per pack.