Review Conducted by EY-Parthenon Highlights Need for Better Tools to Help Smokers Kick the Habit


November 2018 (New York, New York) – Smoking tobacco is a major cause of preventable death and disability. A billion lives are at risk: a billion people who use tobacco–mostly smokers—will die because of it over the course of this century, if the status quo is maintained. A large percentage of smokers want to quit (up to 78%) and demand effective cessation tools. The most effective smoking tools currently on the market help fewer than 25% of smokers stay off cigarettes after just 1 year, a new review released today by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World shows.

The Foundation engaged EY-Parthenon to conduct the landscape review between May and July 2018, with the goal of assessing smoking cessation products and services that are on the market or in development. EY-Parthenon’s report and underlying fact base are available on the Foundation’s website.

“The Foundation’s global 2018 State of Smoking Survey shows that most smokers want to quit and that many try, often multiple times, without success. This report shows that some smokers who try to quit, do so successfully by using available products and services. However, many more do not find these tools helpful or effective,” said Farhad Riahi, MD, Chief Health, Science, and Technology Officer, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

Tobias Handschuh, Partner at EY-Parthenon Life Sciences Practice, led the work and commented, “We started this project to catalog the variety of products and services offered to smokers who want to quit and, as expected, found a diverse set of solutions. Three findings did, however, surprise us:

  1. The low efficacy of products and services designed for cessation, with 12-month sustained abstinence rates of—at best—23%
  2. The limited clinical evaluation of the growing number of technology solutions, notably self-guided smoking cessation applications on mobile devices
  3. The limited number of pharmaceutical and medical device candidates in the development pipeline, suggesting no breakthrough treatments are to be expected within the next 5 to 10 years.”

The report underscores the need to act:

  • To maximize the effectiveness of existing tools through more personalized approaches and combinations of products and services
  • To validate the efficacy of self-guided applications and include the best in treatment pathways
  • To stimulate the innovation of more effective cessation products and services, and to make them affordable and accessible in low- and middle-income countries

Farhad Riahi added, Stimulating innovation for more effective cessation tools, and making them affordable and accessible, are key pillars of the Foundation’s Health, Science, and Technology work. This report is the starting point for our efforts in this area, and we look forward to working with all interested stakeholders on this topic.”