Bizarre: Per game app for non-smokers

Playful approach should help in the rejection

The app "Cigbreak Free" is to help quit smoking - by means of playful distraction. © Kingston University
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Nicotine patch was yesterday: Who wants to get rid of smoking, can access the smartphone in the future. Because researchers have developed a games app that should help just here. Their playful approach combines fun with subtle health messages and distracts easily - apparently with success: In London, the app is already used in official weaning programs.

Every year, many people at the turn of the year take good intentions. They renounce unpleasant habits and want to do a lot better in the future. A classic among the ambitious projects for the New Year: finally quit smoking! But that is easier said than done.

Only those who consistently pursue the right strategy can really achieve their goal in the end. Some rely on nicotine patches and gum, others rely on e-cigarettes as a less damaging substitute for the transition, yet others resort to the redeeming chocolate bar in an acute craving.

Smartphone instead of glowing stalks

London scientists Hope Caton of Kingston University and Robert Walton of Queen Mary University have come up with yet another idea for the reluctant tobacco addicts in their city: How about picking up the smartphone and playing a fun game until the glowing stunt? Desire wears off?

Together, the game expert and the medical professional tried to combine an entertaining experience with concrete health messages. The result is the app "Cigbreak Free". It works much like many other smartphone games, where users have to solve tasks to earn points and reach new levels. display

Stopping smoking makes some more difficult than others. Tonkovic / thinkstock

Playful success stories

The special feature: While the players, for example, break as many cigarettes in the shortest possible time or free a room from tobacco smoke, they are constantly manipulated - very subtly and in a playful way. "Many people think games are just for fun, but in fact we can learn a lot from them, " explains Caton.

So the smokers in the game in principle practice healthy behaviors - and get a reward for that. This incentive is important, according to Caton: "Anyone who tries to stop smoking, has little sense of achievement right at the beginning, but only craves. You live happier, but that's not as satisfying as winning the message or getting a gold star. "In short, the game gives smokers the satisfaction they're lacking.

Employment for the hands

But the app on the smartphone also works on a simpler level: it covers the hands. Strong cravings usually last only a few seconds or minutes. Who spends this short time with a substitute between the fingers, does not weaken so quickly. Another advantage: "Smoking is often only out in the cold, you can play the game anywhere, even in the warm office, " say the researchers.

The concept seems to be paying off: authorities in five London boroughs have already officially included "Cigbreak Free" in their smoke-busting offerings. Citizens can download and play the app for free. First experiences reveal that the game can actually help. How effective the app really is, must be seen in the future. Caton and Walton will launch a three-month pilot study this month to better track success rates.

(Kingston University, 05.01.2017 - DAL)