Quitting smoking may have just gotten a tiny bit easier thanks to a free iPad game aiming to help smokers stub out their cigarettes for good.
Stub It Out, released last Wednesday, was developed by researchers at the University of Auckland. The game turfs tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes across the screen, and players “stub them out” by tapping them.
Marewa Glover, director at the Centre for Tobacco Control Research, came up with the idea for the game. She says it contains subtle messages that communicate educational ideas about smoking.
“In the game, each cigarette you stub out and therefore don’t smoke gives you eight minutes of life back,” she says.
Failure to stub cigarettes makes the screen fill up with smoke, meaning the game gets more difficult.
Stub It Out also educates players on the options available to help quitters. Products such as nicotine patches and inhalers sail across the screen alongside the cigarettes. Collecting them slows the game down.
“The products make the game easier in the same proportion to the amount of help the products give in real life,” says Glover.
Stub It Out was developed as part of the Whanau End Smoking Regional Whanau Ora challenge (WERO) – a stop-smoking team competition where groups of 10 smokers compete to have the most quitters. Winners get a cash prize for a charity of their choice.
WERO is organised as part of the Tūranga, which is a broader set of studies funded by the Ministry of Health and the Health Research Council of New Zealand to reduce tobacco use.
Glover says the game is a way of communicating the anti-smoking message in a completely different way.
“We’re trying to use a more fun, wider range of message forms,” she says.
“It’s all about being innovative to get the idea across.”
With 114 downloads of the game so far, Glover says the team behind Stub It Out has already had requests for it to become available on Android devices and iPhones. She says it hopefully won’t be long before those options are available.