Switching to light cigarettes isn’t going to help kick the habit, says a new study released this week, but playing a game on your cell phone may be an alternative to smoking in the future.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that smokers who went to low-tar, light or mild brand of cigarette were nearly 50 percent less likely to quit smoking.
According to the study of more than 30,000 smokers, nearly 12,000 people switched to a “lighter” cigarette partly because they thought it was a less harmful option.
Researchers said that smokers think switching to a lighter brand is better for their health, although people tend to smoke more and inhale deeper when they reach for light cigarettes.
The study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, found that “a history of switching was associated with a 46 percent lower odds of net quitting.”
Meanwhile, scientists at Columbia University’s Teachers College are working on a game to help people kick the habit by breathing into their mobile phones.
Called “Lit: A Game Intervention for Nicotine Smokers,” involves breathing into a microphone and is accompanied by sounds, colors, images and challenges to mimic the stimulant and relaxing effects of smoking.
The game is intended to be an alternative to smoking with the ultimate goal of reducing or eliminating tobacco completely.
Effects of the game will be evaluated through emotional and physiological responses, such as heart rates, and compared to subjects after smoking or after playing the game and not smoking.
If the game is a success, it will emulate the effects of smoking as replacement therapy for smokers who want to quit.
The research is part of $1.85 million in grants given to nine leading research teams on how digital games might improve health. It is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
By Sheilah Downey, Foodconsumer