March 8, 2018

A Solution to the Israeli Smoking Crisis

Sophie Goldman ‘19

Since her earliest years, Israel has established herself as a leader in STEM fields with innovative technologies, such as missile deflection and advanced irrigation systems. Recently, the Israeli led, New York based health firm Somatix has added its own contribution to the health field: SmokeBeat, a revolutionary app to help people stop smoking.
SmokeBeat uses the sensors found in smartwatches and smartbands to monitor smoking habits. The app tracks the user’s gestures to detect hand motions that resemble lifting and holding a cigarette. The precise nature of the tracking technology helps the app differentiate between other hand motions, such as brushing teeth or drinking water, which might be confused with cigarette use.
The convenience of the tracking system, which can be worn on the wrist without interfering with everyday life, along with its high accuracy rate in detecting smoking gestures, makes SmokeBeat a desirable option for those who want to stop smoking. Additionally, while other anti-smoking programs might require the user to input smoking habits manually, SmokeBeat logs all data automatically, making the process even easier and less disruptive for the user.
While in the United States smoking has declined greatly in the past decades, the problem remains prominent in Israel. In fact, the smoking rate in Israel has risen in recent years, a trend that is rarely seen, especially with the increase in anti-smoking campaigns worldwide. Smoking is accepted in many parts of the country, including in public areas.
“When I was in Israel this past summer for a service trip, we went to the beach one day to pick up cigarette butts,” junior Maya Wasserman said. “I was shocked to see how many were lying on the ground, even in just a small part of the beach.”
Although the Israeli smoking epidemic spurred SmokeBeat’s creators to design the app, it is not the first attempt to reduce smoking in Israel. Other efforts have included limiting the publication of advertisements for cigarettes and establishing stricter rules for smoking in public spaces. More recently, the IDF has also announced a ban on cigarette purchases on army bases.
Most importantly, SmokeBeat helps keep the user accountable for smoking by providing a wide range of data. In addition to tracking gestures that would mark smoking, the technology also provides the user with information on the hours and money they have wasted, along with statistics of health risks and other detrimental effects of smoking on a person's physical, mental, and emotional states. Rather than supplying a regimented plan to stop smoking, SmokeBeat empowers the user to consider the data for themselves, with the intent of encouraging the user to decide independently to stop smoking.
After tracking the user for a period of time, SmokeBeat can even predict when smoking is most likely to occur and deter the smoker with anti-smoking reminders, along with motivational quotes and statistics. This preemptive detection can prevent smoking before the user has the opportunity to do so in the first place, further reducing the amount a person smokes.
SmokeBeat can also be implemented along with guidance from a doctor in order to manage the patient’s withdrawal and continued abstinence from smoking. By providing a multi-faceted support system, SmokeBeat helps users face the damaging effects of smoking head on, and gives medical professionals the information they need to best help their patients.

By giving control to smokers over their health, SmokeBeat has a high potential of reducing smoking rates and altering the attitude of its users toward smoking. Israeli society especially can gain a great deal from this technology, and SmokeBeat is yet another example of Israeli innovation at play, actively transforming lives.

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