Category: Blog

The cigarette packet that stops you smoking

All cigarette packets now carry warnings and graphic images to remind you of the dangers of smoking. Now Edith Cowan University and Curtin University researchers have gone a step further. They have built a cigarette packet that talks to you.

The cigarette packet is a plastic case for smokers to keep their cigarettes or nicotine-replacement products. The box is equipped with a speaker and microphone.

Smokers can record their own voice (or that of their loved ones) reminding them of the reason they want to quit. This plays every time the packet is opened.

Associate Professor Paul Chang from ECU’s School of Psychology and Social Science said the idea was to tap into the smoker’s own motivations for quitting.

“So far we have no widespread data, but we have tried the box out on clients of one pharmacy with good results. If you are a confirmed smoker with no intention of quitting you will have no interest in the device. But people who have already tried and failed to quit find it is a really good add on to change behaviour. It is very important for people to have their own personal motivation to do so,” he said.

Every time they open the packet it will give them a powerful motivation to quit once and for all.

“The message should give personalised reasons to quit that are important to the smoker, such as promises they made to themselves, their spouse or their children.”

“One thing I think that could be particularly effective for parents who smoke would be to get their children to record the message, encouraging them to kick the habit.”

Study participant Cathy Skalski said she had reduced the number of cigarettes she was smoking since she started using the packet.

“I have a recording of my two-week old grandson crying on my packet,” she said.

“It’s a great reminder for me of why I want to quit, so I can watch him grow up.”

Ms Skalski said having the sound play every time she opened her cigarette packet was embarrassing. That is a further incentive to reduce her smoking.

“I don’t like people looking at me when they hear the sound of a baby crying when I open the pack, which is good because it means I’m less likely to reach for a cigarette,” she said.

Professor Chang said the next step for the research was to use the data from the study to design a larger randomised control trial.

Professor Chang is currently looking for volunteers.If you are a smoker and want to stop but are finding it difficult to quit, leave a message on 6304 5745 or send an email to:

By Frank Smith – HCC Blog Contributor

Wasted – did you watch this?


Did you watch the Four Corners episode Wasted on waste in health care last night? It is highly recommended viewing and made a number of interesting points:

  1. That our Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) pays an amount to a health care provider every time they provide a test or treatment. This provides a perverse incentive for medical practitioners to offer more tests and treatments. And more does not always equal better.
  2. That up until the last five years, procedures were not subjected to an evidence base test before being added to the MBS. Which means there are several decades worth of procedures on the MBS that do not pass the evidence base test.
  3. That there is no connection easily made between the number of treatments done and the health outcomes they are achieving for us. So while data is collected from MBS, from our hospitals and health services, from our diagnostic services, this data is collected in silos and cannot easily be translated into a coherent picture of what works, and what doesn’t
  4. That health consumers are sometimes asking for diagnostic procedures and treatments on the understanding that this will ensure they a) reduce their worries and concerns and b) they will get better.
  5. That it takes time in a clinical consultation to explain why tests and treatments may not actually achieve the outcome the consumer is seeking, and spending more time discussing and explaining treatments and options with consumers is not financially rewarded.

At one point consumers are encouraged to ask questions in order to feel sure that the treatment they are having will a) be useful and b) won’t potentially harm them and c) won’t waste our precious resources. A key question is “what’s the evidence for that?”

The imagery throughout the episode of the journey we all face through the different systems once a test is ordered highlights how important it is for us to get on the train knowing exactly where we may end up.

If you have a body and have ever been to a GP, then this story affects you, and you can be part of the change. The current MBS reform has a consumer survey open until 9th November 2015 which aims to help update the MBS to reduce waste and unnecessary treatments. Jump on board now to have your say – you have until 9th November 2015.

This blog was written by Pip Brennan, Executive Director of the Health Consumers’ Council.