LAS VEGAS — Ata Ghofrani cut down on smoking and finally quit during the holidays. The only glitch was a New Year’s Eve party, which triggered a “huge spike” in his otherwise fairly smooth reduction schedule.
Ghofrani used his own invention — Quitbit, the world’s first “smart” lighter — to monitor his smoking and set a daily “budget” of cancer sticks that decreased every day.
“The key for me was to know how many cigarettes I budgeted to smoke a day and how many I had left,” he wrote in a blog post detailing his progress.
The Quitbit uses the same psychology as fitness trackers. If you can monitor it, you can manage it.
Ghofrani is a co-founder and CEO of Quitbit, maker of the smart lighter that displays the number of smokes its owner puffs in a day. Smoking is something that isn’t normally tracked. Most smokers just light up whenever they want.
He came up with the idea for the smart lighter in college. Someone asked him how much he smoked but he had no idea. He wanted to cut back, and he thought monitoring how many ciggies he smoked a day was a good start. Ghofrani had tried using iPhone apps to monitor his smoking, but found the constant data entry too cumbersome.
He got together with four engineers who had two things in common: They all had attended Brown University for grad school and they all smoked. They came up with the idea for an electric lighter that tracks the number of cigarettes it fires up. They made a 3-D prototype, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, and went to China, where they spent several months in Shenzhen finding suppliers and making contacts with factories.
The Quitbit igniter uses a battery-powered heating coil to light cigarettes — no gas or lighter fluid. Every time a cigarette is lit, the Quitbit displays a running count on the lighter body. The connected Quitbit app helps smokers view and manage their smoking habits.
For example, it can display when your smoking levels peak to help manage cutting back. You can also set it for a certain number of cigarettes per day, and Quitbit will tell you how many you’ve had — and when you can smoke again. Ghofrani cited studies showing that self-monitoring and a reduction algorithm reduces smoking rates. And as Quitbit weens you off cigarettes, it displays how much money is being saved.
Ghofrani has been off cigarettes for a year now, he says, although he’s occasionally puffed on a vaporizer. It wasn’t a physical addiction but a mental one, he says. While he is happy to be done with smoking, he occasionally misses the social aspect. Speaking of social, the Quitbit app has an online support group with other users.
Quitbit is available for $99 pre-order and will ship this March.