Group Works to Redesign Tobacco Cessation Products and Services to Appeal to Consumers

Designing innovations in tobacco cessation products and services to boost treatment use and national quit rates

Physicians and public health practitioners have traditionally viewed smokers as patients who need to be prescribed treatments and told how to quit. Yet quit rates have remained stubbornly low—especially among low-income and underserved racial/ethnic populations.

In 2005 tobacco control leaders formed the Consumer Demand Roundtable—a project of the National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative, both led by the Academy for Educational Development—to shift the field toward a different approach: seeing smokers instead as consumers of cessation products and services. The goal was to boost U.S. quit rates significantly, especially among low-income smokers and racial/ethnic minorities, by making treatments for smoking cessation more appealing and consumer-friendly.

From 2006 to 2010, the academy used five grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to build on the roundtable’s work and fulfill that goal. The projects included engaging IDEO—the global design consulting firm—to help tobacco-control groups redesign their programs and creating tools to spur other such organizations to revamp their programs based on the consumer demand approach.

The grants further enabled the academy to publish research and promote findings on the value of that approach to smoking cessation and to create consumer-friendly information for smokers on treatments and services for quitting. A sixth grant funded Barker Bi-Coastal Health Consultants, in Calabasa, Calif., and Gutman Research Consultants, in Cranbury, N.J., to assess the roundtable’s impact on the tobacco-control field.

Three public health organizations worked with IDEO to reconfigure their tobacco-cessation products and services based on consumer demand principles.

The Academy for Educational Development and IDEO published Consumer Demand Design Principles: 8 IDEO Design Principles for Redesigning Tobacco Cessation Products and Services, available online; and Designing for Innovation: A Toolkit for Creating Solutions to Build Consumer Demand for Tobacco Cessation Products and Services, also available online.

Tobacco-control leaders authored some 21 articles and commentaries in “Increasing Tobacco Cessation in America: A Consumer Demand Perspective”—a supplement to the March 2010 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Articles are available online.

In 2010 academy staff used consumer-friendliness concepts to create a Consumer Reports-style card targeted at smokers that rates the effectiveness of methods designed to help them stop smoking (available online toward the end of 2010).