How To Use Collective Intelligence To Help Employees Quit Smoking

Collective intelligence can solve complex challenges that require both AI and a deep human understanding. Ehealth apps can even help people quit smoking.
Crowdsourcing Week

Written by Clive Reffell

Apr 2, 2024

We can look forward to a deeper partnership between human and artificial intelligence in 2024. Collective intelligence will increasingly solve complex challenges that require both AI’s pattern recognition abilities and a deep human understanding. Take our post “Why is Crowdsourcing Vital to Make AI Smarter?” which notes user feedback makes AI more effective by diversifying its data sets and preventing bias. Crowdsourcing collective intelligence through ehealth apps can even help people quit smoking.

Smoking cessation ehealth tools use collective intelligence to hep people quit smoking

Image source: Pexels

Similarly, collective intelligence can improve how things are run within a business. Just take a look at how employee cigarette use affects the workplace: due to smoking breaks and the habit’s negative health impacts, Tobacco-Free Life notes that smoking professionals are less productive while being more likely to take sick leaves. Though establishing no-smoking policies in the workplace is a good first step to take, it may come off as impersonal and discouraging for employees who need a more tailored approach. 

That’s where AI-powered cessation tools come in. Today, chatbots, mobile apps, and devices developed by entities like the World Health Organization and the UK’s University of East Anglia are making it easier to connect with smokers and make quitting more accessible. Here’s how employers can consider using these collective intelligence tools to encourage smoking cessation in the workplace.

The benefits of collective intelligence for workplace smoking cessation 

Accessibility 

The reason why AI-powered cessation tools can connect more easily with smokers is because they’re accessible. Most are available online and even via smartphone, with services often offered for free. They’re also designed to overcome disability and language barriers, with options to use AI cessation tools via video or text in multiple languages. Employers can thus provide or direct smoking employees to resources regardless of their financial and health status—and through accessible mediums they already use in their daily lives rather than methods they may consider hard to reach, such as clinics and support groups. 

Tailored advice 

Cessation tools including ehealth apps that use collective intelligence can take user feedback, process their data sets, and provide smokers with the most relevant advice they need to start their quitting journey. That includes helping users determine when best to set a start date for smoking cessation and what challenges they must be aware of in the following weeks. Take withdrawal symptoms, which is the main cause of smoking relapse. If the user admits to previous failed quit attempts, an AI-powered cessation tool can recommend better nicotine alternatives depending on the preferences they provide. 

Individuals who favour oral options may be directed to nicotine pouches. As exhibited by those available on Prilla, these small packets from brands like ZYN come in different flavours and strengths suited for various tastes and gradual quitting. Heavy smokers who frequented menthol cigarettes, for example, may find mint pouches with 12mg nicotine doses an ideal starting point.

Meanwhile, smokers who want a more convenient, hands-free option will likely be guided to sticker-like nicotine patches from brands like NiQuitin. The UK’s NHS (National Health Service) emphasises that these release nicotine slowly, making them a cost-effective all-day solution. With AI tools including ehealth apps providing such relevant recommendations, employers can rest assured providing them can more effectively improve productivity and presenteeism among smoking employees. 

24/7 support 

Arguably the most important benefit of using collective intelligence for workplace smoking cessation is these tools’ ability to take AI’s pattern recognition capabilities even further with machine learning. With it, they can predict smoking habits and provide more personalised, just-in-time intervention tips users will find most relevant and effective as they strive to quit smoking. More importantly, machine learning allows these ehealth apps and tools to provide conversational 24/7 support smoking employees can take advantage of throughout their cessation journey. 

For example, advanced collective intelligence can use GPS technology to tell when a user has entered a location where they frequently smoke. From here, it can notify them that they are likely to light a cigarette and provide advice on what they can do to prevent that from happening. Meanwhile, cessation chatbots can prove especially useful in providing much-needed ehealth support in the absence of help from a user’s friends and family, and can be accessed even late at night. Due to advances in AI, these chatbots are becoming more conversational and thus more effective: the 2023 study Conversational Artificial Intelligence Interventions to Support Smoking Cessation found that smokers who used such tools were more likely to quit after six months. 

Examples of collective intelligence-powered AI tools 

Florence

Created in partnership with Soul Machines, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud, Florence is the World Health Organization’s first virtual health worker. Designed with the importance of human connectivity in mind, Florence’s real-time digital counselling services incorporate emotion and facial expressions to provide a warm, welcoming atmosphere where smokers can formulate strategies to kickstart their quitting journey. She can communicate via audio, text, and video, while future ehealth offerings will allow for conversations in Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.  

Quit Sense 

This free app developed by the UK’s University of East Anglia leverages AI alongside multiple smartphone features to deliver more effective services. Primarily, it sends users real-time messages based on data relating to where, when, and why they usually smoke cigarettes. Researchers recently disclosed that given its accessibility, Quit Sense makes its users more likely to quit compared to individuals who solely use traditional cessation services from the NHS.

Quitbot

Another free ehealth app, Quitbot, provides an ehealth chatbot developed by the Fred Hutch Cancer Center in Seattle. Its data set was informed by science-backed answers provided by the centre’s researchers, allowing users to hold flexible conversations to answer their questions about smoking cessation. 

Key takeaways

Given the sometimes relatively distant relationship between employers and employees in the workplace, it can be difficult to provide smoking cessation resources that can improve both employee health and a company’s bottom line. By leveraging the synergy between human intelligence and AI, collective intelligence-powered cessation tools such as ehealth apps can bridge the gap and produce the needed results. 

For more insights on collective intelligence, feel free to search what we have here at Crowdsourcing Week.

About Author

About Author

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week on sourcing and creating content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he operates as an independent crowdfunding advisor helping SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and with wider social media and content marketing issues.

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