Two years of self-testing – will apps make me a non-smoker?

… you really want it! Smartphone apps help to permanently keep your hands off the harmful glow sticks. atechbook editorial director Andreas Filbig smoked for a total of 12 years and has now been completely smoke-free for two years – thanks to apps.

The number of smokers in Germany is falling continuously. For the individual, it is often nevertheless a tough battle against addiction. But there is help on the smartphone. Andreas tells his story and reveals what it all comes down to

Initial situation two years ago

With my 32 years of life at that time, I unfortunately looked back on an inglorious smoking history. I really started smoking when I was 20. Quitting was not really an option for me during that time. I simply liked to smoke. On average, I smoked about 14 cigarettes a day, which cost me between 120 and 150 euros a month.

But then, in early September 2019, a strange moment. I smoked the last cigarette of a pack on a Saturday afternoon and a little later set off for the gym. Already on the way, I wondered what it would be like to simply not buy a new pack after sports. Will I really manage to quit spontaneously? I didn’t rate myself as someone who could do it. That’s why I needed help quickly and reached for my smartphone after exercising. That’s how I came across various apps that are supposed to support me in quitting smoking.

Smoke-free apps motivate through goals

In the Apple and Android app stores, there are a whole range of apps (for example, Smoke Free Lite) that support quitting. Simply search for the term “Smoke Free”. The apps, some of which are also available for a fee, hardly differ in terms of how they work. You first enter how many cigarettes you smoke or have smoked per day, how long you have been smoke-free and how much you paid for a pack of cigarettes.

The individual apps then list achievements that you unlock after a certain smoke-free time. For example, you reach the first health goal after just 20 minutes, when your blood pressure and pulse normalize. Especially in the first month, there are relatively many unlocks that keep motivation high. In parallel, the apps count how many cigarettes you haven’t smoked, how much money you’ve saved, and how much tar doesn’t end up in your lungs. Depending on the app, this will unlock more goals.

Smoke Free Lite
“Smoke-free Lite” shows your progress in real time.

By the way, “Kwit – Smoking was Yesterday” solves this in a particularly playful way. Here, users can collect experience points in various categories such as health, money, cigarettes and time and increase their non-smoking level. In the paid version there are then even more rewards and it can be read, for example, the increased life expectancy. Among the available smoke-free apps, a great change.

Kwit screenshot
The “Kwit” app is structured like a role-playing game
Kwit screenshot
The “Kwit” app rewards smokers with experience points for reaching milestones

The apps clearly aim at quitting without exceptions. With every cigarette, the count has to be restarted and the past success is gone. So you think twice about sacrificing everything you’ve achieved for a slip. Provided, of course, that you are always honest with yourself. In my experience, several smoke-free apps work even better in combination. That way, there are even more reward scenarios.

It also works better with sports as a non-smoker: “Rode an e-bike for a month and I’m surprised!”

Non-smokers thanks to smoke-free apps?

Around two years I am now without cigarettes and I have to admit, smoke-free apps really supported me to quit in the first time. I was literally chasing the health goals. The apps are all very good at conveying the feeling that just one cigarette cancels out all the success. With the best will in the world, I don’t want to have to set the timer back to zero. That’s why it doesn’t even occur to me to stop smoking in stages.

The only problem is long-term motivation. After a month, in fact, the health goals largely fail to materialize. Then the only motivation that really helps is that of money saved and cigarettes not smoked. Here, at least in most apps, you can still set money goals and thus see how long you still have to save for a trip, for example. But to really make it, you also have to want to quit. If you’re willing, you can do it today with the help of the apps. However, additional strategies certainly won’t hurt.