Smartphone addict? Use it to kick habit

Luddites who savor every particle of tar or nicotine that billows from their delivery device should read no farther. This story is directed at tech-savvy smokers who actually want to quit.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment last week announced a free smartphone app that helps smokers break their addiction to cigarettes.

Now people addicted to using smartphones will be able to use them to fight another, more dangerous addiction — the addiction to smoking.

“Tobacco use remains one of Colorado’s top public health concerns, as it’s still the number one cause of preventable death in the state,” said health department spokeswoman Caitlin Wilson.

The Tobacco Quit and Save application was on display at Mesa Mall for several days last week until the iPad that was hosting the demonstration failed and had to be repaired.

Laverle Watson of Olathe, who was exiting the food court near the kiosk Thursday, said she did not own a cellphone and was skeptical that one could help anyone quit smoking, a feat she managed more than 20 years ago.

“It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do for myself,” Watson said.

Through April 19, the kiosk that displays the app will be situated between Zales’ Jewelers and Victoria’s Secret. People will be able to try the new app once the iPad that hosts it is repaired.

Debra Cahill, a certified Grand Junction acupuncturist who is licensed by the state, said several methods for kicking the habit, including acupuncture, can work, but the key to any strategy is motivation and determination.

“You have to make the decision that you’re going to do it,” Cahill said.

One way to stay motivated is to track progress, Wilson said.

To that end, the new app tracks money saved, days added to life, cigarettes not smoked and days since the last smoke, she said.

It also saves on the smartphone the user’s best quitting attempt in case of relapse, making information about the smoker’s last successful attempt to quit available as a sort of catalogue of what worked.

The app also uses location-aware technology to send users a motivational message should they visit one of hundreds of locations in Colorado where tobacco is sold.

This location-aware feature can be switched on and off, Wilson said.

Tobacco Quit and Save is a free app available for Android and iPhone mobile devices provided by the state health department, she said.

The motivational app can be used for people who have already quit smoking, want to quit, are helping someone else quit or just want to learn more about the costs of smoking, Wilson said.

The app provides supportive quitting messages when an app user enters any one of hundreds of locations where tobacco products are sold in Colorado.

Looking for extra support to stay quit? Tobacco Quit and Save also allows users to share their accomplishments with friends and family through Facebook and Twitter, Wilson said.

“Quitting is a unique process for everyone,” she said. “It may even take multiple tries, but don’t give up.

“If you relapse while using Tobacco Quit and Save, then simply reset the app to try again,” she said.

The app will continue to display the number of days a smoker went without cigarettes during their best attempt.

They can then work to beat that goal on their next attempt.

The app is intended to be an informational and educational tool. Calculations are based on information provided by the user and includes statewide averages for Colorado, Wilson said.

The dollars saved, cigarettes not smoked and time added to life are estimates and should not be considered as actual financial or medical information, she said.

To quit, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends:

■ Setting a date to quit by choosing a special day like a birthday, anniversary, New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, etc.

■ Telling family, friends, and co-workers of the plan to quit.

“Let people around you know you’re trying to quit,” Wilson said. “Ask them to be understanding of your change in mood, and remind them it’ll be temporary.”

■ Anticipating and planning for the challenges they will face while quitting. They should know the first three months may be the most difficult.

■ Making a list of the times tobacco is normally used and make a plan for how to deal with the cravings.

■ Expecting symptoms of withdrawal, like sore muscles. These are uncomfortable, but are signs the body is ridding itself of nicotine.

■ Removing cigarettes and other tobacco products from the home, car and work.


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