Certain 'quit smoking' apps work better than others. Here's why

As we old folks used to say back in the early smartphone days whenever anyone mentioned anything that could remotely be considered a problem in need of a solution: "There's an app for that!" While it almost seemed true, back in those first heady days of getting acquainted with the Apple Appstore or the Android Market (as Google Play was known back in the day), the fact is, apps never did, nor will, solve all of the world's ills. Economic inequality? A widening political divide? A worldwide pandemic? There's... no app for that, sorry.

There are, however, apps that can address a number of smaller-scale issues, including helping you with your mental health or your weight loss goals — and even assisting you to kick the smoking habit. According to a study just published by The Journal of the American Medical Association — Internal Medicine, there are currently some 490 smoking cessation apps available. However, not all of these yield the same results.

The most effective apps acknowledge your cravings

The JAMA study followed 2415 adult smokers for 12 months, with each smoker being assigned to one of two different smoking cessation apps: one called iCanQuit, and the other, the National Cancer Institute-developed QuitGuide. The difference between the two apps lies in how they approach the problem of smoking. iCanQuit allows smokers to accept their smoking triggers while working to resist these urges, while QuitGuide instead tries to have smokers avoid those triggers altogether.  

The study's results may have come as a surprise — at least to the National Cancer Institute. What researchers found was that survey participants in the iCanQuit group were 1.49 times as likely to succeed in their quest to kick the coffin nails. Jonathan Bricker, a professor at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and lead author of the app study, says the fact that iCanQuit allows you to acknowledge your cravings makes it easier for you to overcome them (via CNN Health).

Bricker feels that any other approach would be less successful, since, as he says, "The problem is that when you try to avoid what you're feeling and what you're thinking, you paradoxically create more of what you're trying to avoid." Instead, an acceptance-based approach allows you to "let go of the rope." If you're looking for this type of anti-smoking app, the buzzwords you want are acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Ultimately, though, whatever app or other quit-smoking method works for you is the best one for you.