InterviewPioneering Anti-Smoking Tool: Just-In-Time for Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, an opportunity for the 37.8 Americans who smoke cigarettes to make a plan to quit and commit to living a healthier, smoke-free life. Carrot, a digital health company that delivers clinically proven, behavioral science-based solutions that empower people to take control of their personal health, is encouraging individuals who smoke to participate in this national initiative.

Smoking continues to be a leading cause of preventable death in the US and with an average rate of ~14%.  Pivot, Carrot’s digital platform, allows anyone to quit smoking at their own pace.  It’s core features include a mobile app, an FDA-cleared breath sensor, personalized coaching/support, nicotine replacement therapy and community support.

To learn more about Carrot, we conducted an interview with David S. Utley, M.D., Founder and CEO of Carrot Inc.

1. What is The Great American Smokeout®?

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is an annual opportunity for everyone who smokes to make a plan to quit and commit to living a healthier, smoke-free life.  This year’s smokeout (celebrated on 11/19) was especially important given the current stresses we are facing from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and a tremendous burden on our nation’s health care system. According to the CDC, more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, and for every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious, smoking-related illness such as diabetes, COPD, heart disease, or cancer.

While we’re not formally affiliated with the Great American Smokeout, we’re big believers in the annual event and fully support the American Cancer Society’s efforts.

2. Can you tell us more about Carrot?

Carrot is a digital health company delivering clinically-proven solutions that empower people to take control of their health. Named to Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2020, Carrot’s Pivot brand is an industry leader in tobacco and vaping cessation.  Combining behavioral science, proprietary FDA-cleared medical device technology, pharmacotherapy, community support, and dedicated coaching, we aim to help millions of people quit tobacco.

3. How can Pivot help people in having a smoke-free life? How does Pivot differ from its competitors?

Pivot is a comprehensive digital solution that takes clinically-proven tobacco cessation strategies and personalizes them for each individual user.  The Pivot program includes a personalized support app, text-based access to trained tobacco cessation experts, a first-of-its-kind personal breath sensor to track progress, nicotine therapy products, and access to a robust online community.

A key differentiator is Pivot’s proprietary technology — the Pivot Breath Sensor.  This handheld device is the first and only FDA-cleared breath sensor for consumer use.  That means smokers now have a new tool in their fight to quit smoking for good.  The breath sensor tracks a user’s progress towards quitting via a unique feedback loop (think scale for losing weight or a FitBit for tracking physical activity) and learns how their carbon monoxide values are affected by their smoking behavior.  Our recently published clinical study found that the Pivot Breath Sensor significantly increased participants’ motivation to quit smoking and resulted in increased quit attempts and a reduction in how many cigarettes they smoked per day.  It has been shown that quit attempts and a reduction in cigarette consumption are positively correlated with long-term success in quitting smoking.

Unlike traditional programs, Pivot is designed for all people who smoke — even those who say they aren’t ready to quit. At Carrot, we want those who smoke to know that we believe in them. Our goal is to enable people who smoke to gain a deeper understanding of their smoking habits, learn strategies to change those habits and motivate them to take the first steps on their personal quit journey.   If you wanted to run a marathon, you wouldn’t try to run 26 miles on your first day. You would run 1 mile. It’s the same thing with quitting tobacco. Many people think you just decide to quit.  That is an oversimplification of a process that takes time and practice. Not only do you have to give people the necessary tools to make significant behavior change, you also have to help them gain confidence and build the motivation needed to make those changes.

4. What features did Tony Cossey see in Pivot that other solutions couldn’t provide him with?

Our users have very consistent feedback around our Pivot solution and one in particular, Tony Cossey, out of Fayetteville Arkansas, said it really well here:

“Even when you’re determined to quit smoking, it’s really difficult when you don’t have any support or accountability. With Pivot, I finally got the help I needed through a personal coach who was always there for me and never judged me. Pivot allowed me to quit smoking at my own pace and on my own terms, and the breath sensor device showed me in a very real way how my lungs were being affected by my smoking, which motivated me to keep progressing with my quitting journey.

5. How did COVID-19 affect smokers?

There is still much we don’t know about COVID-19, but we do know that smoking negatively impacts lung health and exacerbates respiratory infections.  Researchers believe that smokers are at an increased risk of Covid-19.

The links between smoking and respiratory illnesses have been well documented. Respiratory illnesses are more common among people who smoke and when they do get sick, they are more likely to experience severe symptoms. A published study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the rate of infection and the rate of severe complications was much higher for people who smoke vs. non-smokers.  Because of the increased risk, leading experts in the fields of respiratory health have called for people to reduce smoking and if possible quit.

6. What recommendations would you like to give smokers amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

We encourage you to try Pivot.  You will find the experience remarkably different than anything else you’ve tried.  It doesn’t matter if you are ready to quit, it’s ok to just join us to learn about your triggers or even try reducing your tobacco use.  If you aren’t sure you are ready, then try Pivot’s low-friction approach to quitting that begins with the FDA-cleared Pivot Breath Sensor.

7. In the next 5-years, where do you see Carrot in general and Pivot in particular?

There are over a billion people around the globe that use tobacco – and 70% of them want to quit.  We are working to bring our solution to everyone around the world that wants to live a tobacco free life.  In 5 years we will have changed the lives of millions of people.  That’s a mission worth fighting for.

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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