Help to quit smoking? The University of Waterloo's got an app for that

Apr 26, 2012, 07:00 ET from University of Waterloo

WATERLOO, ON, April 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - With today's official launch of the mobile app, "Crush the Crave," University of Waterloo researchers fuse scientific evidence with innovative technology to help young Canadians quit smoking.

"This project is a prime example of the meaningful work taking place at Waterloo to find solutions to everyday challenges facing many Canadians," said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president & vice-chancellor of Waterloo. "We are pleased that work conducted here may assist young people in leading healthier lives, and appreciate the generous support of government in the pursuit of this important goal."

Health Canada has provided $350,552 for this project. According to Health Canada's Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, 89 per cent of current smokers start smoking by age 19.

"Our government is proud to support the University of Waterloo's efforts to help young adults quit smoking," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, federal health minister. "By using the strength of social media, "Crush the Crave" is a smartphone application that will help reduce tobacco use among youth."

Based on scientific findings related to tobacco use among Canadian youth, the app offers a customized quit plan to help young people monitor habits, understand craving triggers, share results and gain support from friends online. It also offers social media tools, such as videos and opportunities to chat with friends online to distract a user until the craving subsides a few minutes later. "Crush the Crave" drives demand for evidence-based services such as smoking cessation hotlines and nicotine replacement therapy.

"Young Canadians may, for the first time, have a shorter life expectancy than their parents," said Bruce Baskerville, senior scientist at the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at Waterloo. "This is the first evidence-based mobile app targeted to people between the ages of 19 and 29: the demographic with the highest smoking rates in Canada, and the most users of smartphones."

With more than 12,000 Facebook fans and 400 Twitter followers already, the pre-launch popularity suggests the app is striking a chord with young people.

"I love this app because it reminds me how much I am actually smoking," Philipp Beckermann said on the "Crush the Crave" website. Josie Cino, another smoker who used the app, wished the tool was available years ago. "I have been trying to quit smoking for a long time. I love this tool as I get motivation from friends and family."

"Leave the Pack Behind," a program to control tobacco consumption among young adults in Ontario's post-secondary institutions, was a key partner in the development of the app.

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About the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact

The Propel Centre for Population Health Impact is a collaborative enterprise that conducts research, evaluation and knowledge exchange to accelerate improvements in the health of populations. Supported by a Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute major program grant, the University of Waterloo and more than 30 grants and contracts from federal and provincial governments and non-governmental organizations, Propel's niche is relevant and rigorous science that informs policies and practice to prevent cancer and chronic disease. Propel is comprised of in-house research scientists and 45 experienced staff who work with research, policy and practice leaders across Canada and beyond.

About the University of Waterloo 

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 34,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit

SOURCE University of Waterloo