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How can current smoking cessation apps become more effective?


This article provides a deeper understanding of the UK’s smoking cessation industry. In 2020, with a 22% increase in quit attempts, and a 9% jump in quitting success rates [1], it is clear smoking cessation is a growing industry in the UK. This article will outline smoking cessation treatments, alongside the current treatments e-Pharmacy can offer to your service through partnership. Lastly, it will outline the benefits a partnership with e-Pharmacy should bring to your service.  

As smoking is one of the UK’s biggest causes of deaths and illness, with around 78,000 people dying a year, and many more developing smoking-related illnesses [2], it is important smokers and ex-smokers have access to essential and affordable treatments. 

Why are smoking alternatives not the best option? 

Although alternatives, such as vapes and e-cigarettes are safer options than smoking cigarettes, they are still harmful. The liquid and vapour within these alternatives still contain some potentially harmful chemicals, which is found in cigarette smoke, but at lower levels [3]. The harmful substances may include nicotine, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents [4]. Therefore, smokers must have access to alternative smoking cessation treatments, which are affordable and effective in helping smokers to quit smoking successfully.   

What are some current smoking cessation treatments? 

Some smoking cessation medications are offered by GPs. However, due to funding cuts, it has left some GPs unable to prescribe smoking products, where the number of GPs prescribing nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) fell 70% between 2006 and 2017, and the dispensing of varenicline fell by more than 50% between 2010 and 2017 [5]. This is surprising as varenicline is the most common smoking cessation treatment. 

Champix (Vareniciline)

It reduces nicotine cravings, and helps smokers cope with withdrawal symptoms, including he urge to smoke again; feeling depressed or irritable; and difficulty sleeping [6]. It is important to acknowledge that alone, Champix will not work – determination from the smoker is key too.

According to the NHS, more than 6 in every 10 people who have used Champix, with the support of local stop smoking services, have been able to stop for a month or more [7]. This shows the effectiveness of Champix, but other studies have supported is effectiveness too:

  1. Medical study comparing Champix to a placebo showed 21 in 100 people, who took Champix successfully stopped smoking, as compared to 8 in 100 who took the placebo [8]. As Champix more than doubled the rate of stopping smoking it is showing to be successful. 
  2. NHS study in 2007 indicated Champix was the most successful smoking cessation aid in helping people quit. In this study, 64% of people who took Champix were able to successfully quit smoking [5]. This highlights the huge benefits access to Champix will have on smokers.

Aside from Champix, what are some treatments e-Pharmacy can offer to smoking cessation services? 

e-Pharmacy offer a range of medications, and prescriptions which are effective in smoking cessation:  

Case Study: QuitNow! Smoking Cessation App

QuitNow! is a popular smoking cessation app, available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Sore. It engages with smokers to provide several features, such as an ‘ex-smoker status’, ‘achievements’, a ‘community’ of ex-smokers, and ‘ex-smoker’ health [10]. With digital technology constantly evolving and advancing [11], and the apps such as the NHS Quit Smoking app and Livestrong MyQuit Coach being the most popular smoking cessation app, it is important other smoking cessation apps are able to gain customers.

Through partnership with e-Pharmacy, QuitNow! can embed our API prescribing platform into thier app, with on-call advice delivered at any time by our experts. In turn, this will give QuitNow! app users easy and affordable access to medication and rescribing services, which should increase the successfulness of quit attempts. Therefore, this will provide QuitNow! with a better reputation, and more downloads.

How can e-Pharmacy help your current service use digital technology, to become more competitive? 

There are countless apps to help people stop smoking, such as Quit Smoking, Quit Now! and Smoke-Free. These apps provide support, timelines, encouragement, trackable achievements and milestones. No quitting apps seem to include the option for medication such as Varenicline, which has shown the highest quit rate in studies. Fewer than one in ten adult smokers successfully quit smoking each year, if the option for medication were available within smoking cessation apps rates would most probably rise with the success of medical treatment being 2 to 3 times more successful than without the use of stopping aid.


With a 23% quitting success rate, more is needed to help smokers successfully quit. Through partnership with e-Pharmacy, our experts will help embed our API online prescribing and pharmacy services directly onto your app, allowing your smoking cessation app users to purchase relevant prescription treatments. This will increase the percentage of successful quitting attempts from your app, but also support ex-smokers on their journey, through easy access to affordable treatments. In turn, your current service will become more competitive.  




[1] UK Government | https://www.gov.uk/government/news/surge-in-smokers-trying-to-quit-see-increased-success-rates-in-2020 

[2] NHS | https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/what-are-the-health-risks-of-smoking/ 

[3] NHS | https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/using-e-cigarettes-to-stop-smoking/ 

[4] HealthDirect | https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/cigarette-substitutes-how-safe-or-effective-are-the-alternatives-to-tobacco 

[5] GP Online | https://www.gponline.com/funding-cuts-leave-gps-unable-prescribe-stop-smoking-products/health-promotion/health-promotion/article/1487797 

[6] NHS | https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/champix-varenicline/ 

[7] NHS | https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/10-myths-about-stop-smoking-treatments/ 

[8] Patient.Info | https://patient.info/healthy-living/quit-smoking-cessation/varenicline-champix 

[9] NHS | https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-nhs-stop-smoking-services-in-england/statistics-on-nhs-stop-smoking-services-england-april-to-september-2007-q2-quarterly-report 

[10] QuitNow!| https://apps.apple.com/us/app/quitnow/id483994930 

[11] Yorkshire Smokefree NHS Service | https://yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk/articles/how-digital-technology-is-helping-smokers-to-quit