Building Consumer Demand for Tobacco-Cessation Products and Services

Taking a “consumer perspective” to provide more smokers with tobacco-cessation products and services that they find appealing and effective could increase the nation’s quit rates.

Each year, more than 17 million smokers (40% of all smokers) make an attempt to quit. Unfortunately, many who try, including the populations with the highest smoking prevalence (Native Americans, Alaska Natives, low-income smokers and those with less formal education), are the least likely to choose proven treatments and therefore fail in their attempts.

The National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative Consumer Demand Roundtable was created to build the demand for evidence-based tobacco-control products. Roundtable participants identified as a key concept that smokers should not be viewed as “patients” but as “consumers” who will be attracted to effective treatments when they are designed to be engaging and to produce a positive consumer experience.

IDEO, an innovative product design firm, identified eight consumer-centered design principles for enhancing smokers’ experiences with cessation treatments: allow smokers to try a product or service before buying; make products less expensive; make products look and feel good; facilitate transitions through the stages of quitting; make progress tangible; foster community (real or virtual); connect products and services into a cohesive system; and integrate products and services into people’s daily behaviors. The design principles are being applied to pilot projects and tested at several sites.

This article is part of a special issue on tobacco cessation in the March 2009 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.