Kicking the cigarette habit is no picnic. It’s a full-on resistance effort against an overwhelming craving. That’s why smokers sometimes need more than will power alone to quit. Now a new device has been developed to add extra ammunition to the fight in the form of the SmartStop, an electronic wearable from U.S.-based Chrono Therapeutics that takes nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to a new level and adds behavioral support, thanks to the possibilities of digital, wireless technology.

SmartStop includes two components: a reusable base that can be worn on the wrist, arm or torso, and replaceable nicotine cartridges. The device’s main innovation is that it can be programmed to satiate peak cravings throughout the day by providing programmable transdermal NRT. It also packs Bluetooth technology that allows the user to link up with a custom smartphone app that provides real-time guidance and helps the wearer make the most of the therapy.

Typically, the strongest cravings occur first thing in the morning after several nicotine-free hours during sleep. Meal time is another peak time because food boosts nicotine metabolism, calling for another higher dose. This is generally followed by a final peak about five or six hours later to coincide with dinner time.

One of the shortcomings of current NRT methods, which result in an average success rate of 10 percent, is that they do not match craving cycles. Chrono Therapeutics says the average smoker will attempt to quit eight to ten times in their lifetime, but that clinical studies show the timed approach increases success rates to about 50 percent compared with other methods.

To boost the chance of quitting, the SmartStop device taps mobile digital technology to synchronize the delivery of nicotine at the times of cravings to prevent them from occurring. It also sends reminders, messages of encouragement, helps establish support networks (which can really help) and provides rewards and incentives as the device weans the wearer off the drug.

"Smoking costs people their health and eventually their lives, but current technologies like nicotine gums and patches are not effective in enabling smokers to quit permanently because they do not address the cyclical nature of nicotine cravings and offer little to no behavioral support," said Alan Levy, Ph.D., CEO of Chrono Therapeutics. "We believe we have a very compelling technology that will solve many of the problems that make smoking cessation so difficult."

Millions of people could benefit from a more effective method to quit smoking. In the U.S. alone there are 45 million smokers, according to figures from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Of that number, 70 percent say they would like to say goodbye to their nicotine addiction. Chrono Therapeutics recently secured US$32 million in Series A financing, which will go towards completing product development and clinical trials.

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