Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundland man creates stop-smoking app for people who want to Qwidder

A new stop-smoking app called Qwidder focuses on personal motivators and the buddy system to help people kick the habit.

Bob O'Reilly says he was motivated by his twin brother's death from lung cancer

Qwidder is a new app designed to help smokers quit. There is also a free companion app for people who want to support someone else's fight to be smoke-free. (qwidder.com)

Canada Day will never be the same for Bob O'Reilly. It was on July 1, 2014, that he lost his twin brother, Bill, to lung cancer.

"He never smoked a day in his life. I was the smoker," said O'Reilly. 

It was a twist of fate that became a powerful motivator for the creator of a new app designed to help smokers kick the habit.

"I always felt that he had my cancer. It was a terrible thing to try and live with, and in my own mind, if in the grand scheme of things I was left here instead of him, I needed to do something extraordinary. I want to help countless people quit smoking."

Qwidder president Bob O'Reilly shows a picture of his twin brother Bill, the inspiration for his stop-smoking app. Bill remained in their home town of Corner Brook on Newfoundland's west coast, while Bob moved to Nova Scotia in the early '90s. (Submitted by Bob O'Reilly)

That's what O'Reilly is hoping to achieve with Qwidder — a play on the pronunciation of quitter in some areas on the East Coast of Canada. 

O'Reilly kicked his own 20-year smoking habit over a year ago, and has incorporated what he learned through that process in an app that focuses on personal motivators and the buddy system for support.

Accountability crucial to success

The very first question Qwidder asks when you sign up is, "Who are you quitting for?"

"I promised Bill that I would quit, and using that promise as my motivator was my starting point," he told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show.

Guilt and shame are not effective means of treating an addiction.- Bob O'Reilly

The app allows users to log their cigarette consumption and cravings, and uses those numbers to calculate stats such as money saved and the nicotine and tar avoided by not lighting up. 

It also connects the smoker with an accountability partner for one-on-one support, and includes distraction tools such as a word search game to take the mind off cravings. 

"My business partner and co-founder Kevin Cooper acted as my accountability partner when I struggled quitting smoking over a year ago," said O'Reilly. 

"He was there on my bad days, and he was there to celebrate my successes. Guilt and shame are not effective means of treating an addiction, but support and understanding on the rough days can make the difference."

Qwidder was launched for Apple devices Dec. 17, and O'Reilly said an Android version will be available Jan. 31.

With files from the Corner Brook Morning Show

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