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Cleverly Designed Cigarettes Will Convince You That You Can Quit

Simple interventions, such as numbering each smoke or progressively increasingly the filter size as a person works through a pack, could subtly help a smoker who is struggling to quit.

Only a tiny fraction of smokers are actually able to give up cigarettes cold turkey, and even with the help of a drug like a nicotine patch, only around 25% can stay smoke-free for six months. Could a redesigned cigarette help?

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Taiwanese designer Yi-Wen Tseng created four new versions of the cigarette, inspired by the fact that his grandfather was seriously ill because of smoking–but still couldn’t give up the habit.


“I just tried to think about whether I could slightly change the cigarette itself to improve health while someone still kept smoking,” he says. “I think the process of quitting can also be enjoyed.”

In one design, Tseng numbers each cigarette in a pack so smokers will be more conscious of how much they’re consuming. In theory, someone would limit themselves to one cigarette a day, though that’s not exactly an easy switch, considering the average smoker in Taiwan puffs up 32 times a day.

Another design uses a slightly bigger filter size in each cigarette, so as someone goes through a pack, they’ll smoke less each time. A third design splits in half, so when a fellow smoker asks for a cigarette, each person will have a little less.


Each design is built directly into the habit, rather than adding an extra step. “The greatest significance and emphasis of this design lie in its utilization, not just in its convenience and functionality,” Tseng says.

Tseng’s last design doesn’t have much to do with quitting, but it does attempt to solve another smoking-related problem: Each cigarette is stamped with a traceable number tied to someone’s identity, so they’ll be less likely to toss them out in the street and add to the world’s biggest litter problem.

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Will the cigarettes work to help change behavior? They’re not actually based on scientific or medical research, but Tseng is optimistic that they could make a difference. No word yet on whether they might actually be manufactured: What cigarette manufacturer will want to take on a product that could make itself obsolete?

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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