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App proves to be effective in helping smokers quit

  • AP PHOTO/KOJI SASAHARA, FILE

    Although Tokyo has designated smoking areas, the government hopes to make the city a smoke-free environment for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

  • PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY BRYANT FUKUTOMI / BFUKUTOMI@STARADVERTISER.COM

TOKYO >> Smokers who have been fighting a lonely battle against nicotine addiction now have another tool in their aresenal to kick the habit.

Keio University and CureApp Inc., a Tokyo-based medical technology startup, announced recently that a clinical trial has proved the effectiveness of CureApp Smoking Cessation, a smartphone app they designed to help smokers quit.

The app analyzes information from patients undergoing smoking cessation treatment, such as their health status and the level of carbon monoxide in their breath, to offer daily advice on how to keep themselves from lighting up.

“In normal smoking cessation treatment, doctors are unable to treat patients’ psychological addiction until their next regularly scheduled session. This has been an obstacle for patients who had to fight (the addiction) alone,” said Dr. Kota Satake, president of CureApp and a respiratory physician.

The app addresses that psychological aspect.

Trials involving 572 people ran from October 2017 to the end of 2018, with 285 people utilizing the app and 287 who did not. The trial found that 64% of app users abstained from smoking six months later, while only 50% of the control group did the same.

“To deliver this app, which will make up for the shortcomings of (smoking cessation) treatment as soon as possible, I will put all my effort into … having it covered under the public medical insurance system,” Satake said.

In Japan in 2017, 17.7% of people in their 20s and older regularly smoked tobacco, a decrease from 24.4% in 2007, according to the health ministry. The highest ratio of smokers were males in their 30s and 40s, at about 40%.

While treatment has been covered by public medical insurance since 2006, a 2017 study conducted by the health ministry shows that only 27% of those in treatment stopped smoking for a year.

Yet the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has pushed for a smoke-free environment ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

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