The Australian National Preventive Health Agency (aka Promoting a Healthy Australia) is responsible for delivering the Commonwealth Government’s National Tobacco Campaign.
In the article below, the Agency’s CEO, Louise Sylvan, describes how a personalised, interactive app, My QuitBuddy, is helping people who are trying to quit smoking.
“Darling, we are totally proud of you”…and other incentives to quit smoking
Louise Sylvan writes:
In the complex space of behavioural change, where governments are keen to nudge and assist people into making better decisions for their health – while not interfering with their right to make their decisions for themselves – a clever new app is making a big difference for those trying to give up smoking.
Available for both iPhones and androids (downloadable from iTunes or Google Play), My QuitBuddy isn’t just a cute interactive information app – though it is that as well. More importantly, it gives people the opportunity to personalise a real “buddy” into their quit attempt – providing them with the kinds of psycho-social supports they need to help them succeed.
While the interactive app has a range of quit tips, daily motivational messages, and countdown-to-quitting reminders to support smokers through every step of their journey, it’s the ability to record quitting goals in pictures, words or audio messages that is especially helpful to users.
So if people plan on taking the kids to Disneyland – their My QuitBuddy tells them every day how much they’ve saved in cigarette purchases to get them towards their goal. Add a recorded message from one of those kids – “You can do it Daddy!!” – or from a partner – “Darling, we are totally proud of you!!” – and that’s real motivation in those difficult moments.
There is even a panic button for when those terrible cravings occur that puts you through to the Quitline 13 78 48 or provides a range of distractions including an interactive game. The app keeps a record of smoke free days, hours and minutes, milligrams of tar avoided, the number of cigarettes not smoked, as well as the money saved from not smoking.
Smoking is still Australia’s single most preventable cause of death and ill health. Despite reductions in smoking rates, around 2.8 million Australians smoke at least once daily and the most recent available estimate shows that 15,000 Australians are still dying from often debilitating smoking related diseases each year. Health Ministers want those numbers reduced and have targeted a reduction in the prevalence of adult daily smoking from 16.3% currently, to 10% or less by 2018.
Our research shows that 82% of smokers have tried to quite at least once and 54% tried in the last 12 months. There are now already 122,000 people who have downloaded the My QuitBuddy app to help them beat this addiction – and hopefully making it at least a tiny bit easier for them.
Here are some encouraging words from the community board associated with the app which also provides support to recent quitters:
- 14 days today and feeling very proud of myself. It has taken 24 years to feel how good life can be without smokes. No going back now.
- Day 9 after quitting cold turkey – I had been smoking since 16, that was 42 years ago – bit late in the day I suppose – but every day extra will be worth it.
- Day 32. I made the decision to never ever smoke again no matter how hard it gets. It’s been tough but I know I have to do it. I’ve been smoking for 20 years so I still feel lost and dazed and emotional but also feel proud. I’ve tried so many times but this time I’ve done it. Trust me if I can do it you can too.
Further reading from Louise Sylvan at Croakey