Mobile Smoking Cessation Tool Earns FDA Approval

It seems like mobile apps these days have the power to help us do virtually anything, from hailing a ride to applying for a job to managing our health. Indeed, recent studies have showcased apps’ potential when it comes to health care, including for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. And now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially given its seal of approval to a smoking cessation app—the first of its kind to earn it. As mHealth Intelligence first reported, the agency has given clearance to California-based company Carrot, whose product uses a mobile breath sensor paired with an app that helps users quit smoking. “Smoking is the number one cause of preventable illness and death worldwide,” said Carrot’s founder and CEO David S. Utley, MD, in a press release. “While there has been a torrent of wearable tech to facilitate behavior change in fitness, weight loss and other targets, there’s been no such innovation to help people quit smoking.”

While, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of smokers in the United States has declined in recent years, there are still approximately 36.5 million Americans—or one in every 100 adults—who smoke cigarettes regularly. And each year, the CDC estimates, more than 480,000 deaths can be attributed to smoking-related illnesses. What’s more, as mHealth Intelligence notes, many smokers (as many as 70 percent, according to some studies) want to quit, but feel unable to do so. Carrot’s vice president of behavioral science, Heather Patrick, Ph.D., attributes this partly to the fact that “most programs start with setting a quit date, then go straight to creating a quit plan,” which for many smokers is “intimidating.” To that end, Pivot seeks to provide a more tailored approach. “Pivot has entirely reimagined smoking cessation, first by designing a program that is for all smokers, not just those ready to quit,” said Patrick. “And, second, by delivering evidence-based behavioral science strategies directly to the participant via their smartphone. Pivot is designed to appeal to and help smokers no matter where they are in their quit journey.”

Utley describes Carrot’s system as “a home-use mobile breath sensor device.” Specifically, it monitors users’ carbon monoxide levels via a Bluetooth-enabled handheld sensor. It then pairs with an app, called Pivot, which provides users with “evidence-based motivational, educational and coaching tools.” Per the Carrot press release, it will soon be available to users at self-insured United States-based employers for use in workplace wellness programs. Pivot is just one of a series of recent apps designed to target smokers. Earlier this year, we highlighted a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) demonstrating that users of an app called Clickotine, which was “engineered to engage smokers by personalizing intervention components,” showed “encouraging quit rates” among a group of participants who wanted to cease smoking cigarettes.

Click here to read the mHealth Intelligence article on the FDA approval of the Pivot app.

Click here to read the Carrot press release on the FDA approval of Pivot.

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