The Benefits of Using a Quit Smoking App

Verywell / Laura Porter

Quitting smoking can be a great way to improve your health and reduce your cancer risk, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of tools and resources that can help you on your journey to being smoke-free, including mobile apps that can help you track your progress and stay motivated.

In order to choose the best quit smoking app for you, it can be helpful to start by thinking about what you’re looking for in an app and which features might be the most helpful in your situation.

This article discusses the benefits of using a quit smoking app and how to find the right app for your needs.

Benefits of Using a Quit Smoking App

Smoking is on the decline in the U.S., but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 36.5 million adults still smoke. Approximately 16 million adults in the U.S. are currently living with some type of smoking-related illness. The CDC also reports that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Quit smoking apps offer a number of benefits. These tools can help you:

  • Connect with a supportive and understanding community
  • Develop new coping skills
  • Find inspiration and motivation to stick to your goals
  • Identify triggers that make you want to smoke
  • Learn more about the benefits of being smoke-free
  • Try challenges that you can work toward achieving
  • Track your progress and look at your smoking history

How Quit Smoking Apps Work

Quit smoking apps may utilize a variety of approaches to support you as you stop smoking. Some might promote quitting cold turkey, while others may help you gradually taper your use to avoid nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Research has found that both methods have similar long-term success rates, so choose the one that seems the most suited to your needs.

Some apps may utilize principles of psychotherapy approaches—such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)—to help you quit smoking. CBT focuses on identifying and changing the negative thought patterns that play a role in smoking. Other benefits of these apps include learning new ways of thinking that will make it easier to give up cigarettes and developing new coping skills that will help you maintain your smoking abstinence.

What to Look for in a Quit Smoking App

Research suggests that key app features that are used most often by people who are trying to quit include:

  • Audiovisual elements
  • Quit plans
  • Progress trackers
  • Sharing features

Studies also reveal that the more engaged people are with an app, the more successful they tend to be at quitting. This means that finding an app that works for you and offers features you'll use is important.

Some factors to consider as you are looking for a quit smoking app include how much support the app offers, its features, and how easy it is to use.

Recap

If an app is challenging to use, you may not see much of a benefit. Look for apps that offer interactive, engaging features such as informative videos, a clear plan for quitting smoking, and an easy way to track your progress.

How Effective Are Quit Smoking Apps?

Research suggests that quit smoking apps can be great tools for people who are trying to stop smoking. However, the results of some studies are mixed, so it may be necessary to incorporate other means such as nicotine replacement therapy along with your other efforts.

For any quit smoking app to be successful, you need to be motivated to succeed. Sticking with the app and using it regularly may play a big part in whether you can give up smoking for good. 

The initial withdrawal period can last a few days or weeks. During this time, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, including sadness, irritability, problems sleeping, and cravings.

Becoming smoke-free is a process that can take months or even years. The initial withdrawal period is often the most difficult, so you may find it helpful to use the app frequently during the early stages of smoking cessation. 

What Makes a Quit Smoking App Successful?

A 2020 study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that smartphone apps that encourage people to acknowledge and accept their smoking triggers were more effective than simply avoiding those triggers.

The study involved splitting participants into two groups:

  • Acceptance group: The first group used an app developed by the researchers called ICanQuit. The app is based on a type of therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy and teaches people to accept their triggers while also reminding people about their values and encouraging them to quit without judging them for their urges to smoke.
  • Avoidance group: The second group used the QuitGuide app created by the National Cancer Institute. The app follows the U.S. Clinical Practice Guidelines for smoking cessation. It encourages people to avoid the triggers that make them want to smoke.

The results revealed that those who used the acceptance rather than avoidance approach were 1.49 times more likely to quit smoking successfully.

Combine Apps With Other Proven Treatments

One important thing to remember is that using a quit smoking app should supplement your smoking cessation efforts, not replace other proven treatments.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), including nasal sprays, inhalers, gum, and lozenges, is also very effective at helping people quit. One review found that nicotine replacement therapy increased smoking cessation success by 50 to 70%.

Studies have found that these products are most effective if you combine short-acting NRT products, such as inhalers, gums, or lozenges, with a long-acting nicotine patch.

NRT helps you minimize withdrawal symptoms and nicotine cravings. As the research suggests, these products make it more likely you'll give up cigarettes for good. Using a quit smoking app to supplement nicotine replacement therapy may significantly improve your odds of quitting.

Recap

A non-medical approach such as a quit smoking app can be helpful when you are trying to give up cigarettes. However, it's best to talk to your doctor about effective nicotine replacement therapy options that have been proven to help people become smoke-free.

A Word From Verywell

Smoking creates significant health risks and is a leading cause of death. Finding ways to quit smoking can have a major impact on your health and well-being. A quit smoking app can be a valuable and effective tool, particularly when combined with other smoking cessation treatments.

A great quit smoking app should include support, feedback, and information to help you succeed. While an app can help, your efforts are key. Getting an app on your smartphone can be a positive way to boost your chances of success, but don’t be afraid to reach out to your healthcare provider for more advice and resources.

Was this page helpful?
7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Current cigarette smoking among adults in the United States. Published December 10, 2020.

  2. Lindson N, Klemperer E, Hong B, Ordóñez-Mena JM, Aveyard P. Smoking reduction interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group, ed. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2019;2019(9). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013183.pub2

  3. Regmi K, Kassim N, Ahmad N, Tuah N. Effectiveness of mobile apps for smoking cessation: a review. Tob Prev Cessation. 2017;3(April). doi:10.18332/tpc/70088

  4. Smokefree.gov. Understanding withdrawal.

  5. Bricker JB, Watson NL, Mull KE, Sullivan BM, Heffner JL. Efficacy of smartphone applications for smoking cessation: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(11):1472. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4055

  6. Hartmann-Boyce J, Chepkin SC, Ye W, Bullen C, Lancaster T. Nicotine replacement therapy versus control for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;5(5):CD000146. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000146.pub5

  7. Rigotti NA. Strategies to help a smoker who is struggling to quit. JAMA. 2012;308(15):1573-1580. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13043