Therapist Blog

Smartphone App Designed to Help Teens Stop Smoking

PoliticoPro, in a June 10, 2013 article, describes an eight week smoking cessation program designed by the National Cancer Institute specifically for teenagers that is now available as an app. The program consists of text messages whose content is determined by texts from the teenagers describing their moods, cravings and the like. The article reports that "Teen smoking remains a huge problem: A Surgeon General report released in 2012 found more than 3.6 million high schoolers and middle schoolers smoke, and nearly 9 out of 10 of all U.S. smokers start by age 18. The report found that the rates of teen smoking had hit a discouraging plateau, after several years of decline." Erik Augustson, a behavioral scientist in the National Cancer Institute's Tobacco Control Research Branch was quoted:
"Teens don’t respond as well to tradition cessation efforts, Augustson says. They don’t really see themselves as smokers, they underestimate how hard it is to quit, they don’t think they’ll need help quitting, and they don’t know about cessation resources out there. ***That’s why the cancer institute is using smartphones, as part of the initiative, to try to connect with them and other hard-to-reach groups, including women, Latinos and veterans. We’re trying to leverage the function of emerging technologies to do two things: One is to more effectively engage smokers in health behavior change … as a means to really engage these people in an intervention, and then the other thing is we’re trying to use these tools as a way to greatly expand our reach. NCI’s smoking cessation mobile apps let users track their mood, cravings and days gone without smoking or get data on a treatment plan."

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams