Quitting smoking is not an easy task but a new app that helps smokers acknowledge their cravings instead of denying them may make it a tad easier to say goodbye to the habit.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday, entitled, "Efficacy of Smartphone Applications for Smoking Cessation, A Randomised Clinical Trial," found that using a smartphone application that is based on the popular acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an effective tool in helping smokers to quit smoking. The results of their study found that this method can be a treatment option that could create an impact on smokers.

The study enrolled 2,415 cigarette smokers, divided into two groups, and monitored between May 2017 up to September 2018. One group used the iCanQuit app, which the researchers themselves developed, while the other group utilised the National Cancer Institute QuitGuide (NCIQ).

The difference between the two was that the iCanQuit app is based on ACT. It teaches smokers to accept smoking triggers. The goal of the app is to abhor smoking by appealing to the person's values. It encourages smokers to face the urge, allow it to pass, but they must not act on that urge.

On the other hand with the NCIQ, the approach is the opposite. It is designed to encourage people to quit the habit by avoiding triggers that propel individuals towards cigarettes. The basis of the NCIQ is the US Clinical Practice Guidelines, which uses logic and reason to urge people to quit smoking.

The researchers found that the group who used the iCanQuit app were 1.49 times more likely to quit smoking as compared to those who made use of the other app.

Jonathan Bricker, the primary author of the study and a professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said that with the iCanQuit app, the smoker lets go of the rope. The acceptance of the existence of the triggers helps ease that tug-of-war that many smokers have whenever they desire to reach out for a cigarette.

He further explained that one problem of smokers is that when they try to avoid what they are feeling and thinking, they paradoxically create more of the very thing that they are trying to avoid. This is what the iCanQuit app answered, as it allows smokers to face their triggers and cravings instead of eliminating them.

Quitting Smoking
Smoking Photo: Getty Images/ Alexander Heimann

Bricker and his co-authors concluded that with every 100,000 smokers, there would be 28,000 who would successfully get rid of the habit using iCanQuit app.